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Letters to the Editor

Litter hurts

March 19, 2010

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To the editor:

As I take my evening walk, I often make an effort to pick up the litter as I go. Recently there has been so much that I’ve begun carrying a bag with me. There is litter in the gutters, our yards, the trees, on the path, in the air and in the creek. Recently, I walked less than half of a mile before my trash bag was completely full! Does anyone else see this as a concern?

There are two truths about litter. The first is that litter looks bad. It negatively impacts the image of a place especially for visitors. The second is that litter attracts litter. It sends out a message that people do not care for the environment and that it is acceptable to litter.

Both are intolerable to me as a parent, teacher and member of this community. Instead of getting mad I’ve made the choice to work with the children I teach daily and my family and friends to motivate them to clean up the litter. How will this manifest into action? I’m not sure yet. But I know that it will make a difference in their lives and the lives of everyone living here.

Lastly, I implore all of you to take the time to stop and collect some litter. Take it home with you or find a trash can to put it in. Imagine how beautiful our community will be. So get out there and pick it up!

Comments

kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

Here Here! Lets collect and recycle the trash but ultimately lets pay attention to our own footprint on the Earth. She's very powerful you know!!!!!

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Bob Kraxner 4 years, 1 month ago

You can thank the morals (or lack thereof) of the current generation of parents, which unfortunately happen to be my age. I remember seeing the commercial on TV of the old Indian with the tear rolling down his face, after seeing the trashing of mother earth.

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Matthew Herbert 4 years, 1 month ago

I used to live right by the Dirty Bird........I made a 2nd income cashing in recycled beer cans that were thrown in my yard. I would LOVE to see the LPD set up a drunk driving checkpoint at 8th and Locust. The amount of open container citations would surprise most in this town.

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PAWPAW 4 years, 1 month ago

The amount of waste we generate (not the resulting "litter") is the problem. Teaching the community's children (and adults) to pick up litter and hide it in landfills only gives half of the story...

So in addition to doing litter pick-ups, have them keep all their own trash for a week (or month, etc.). At the end of the week separate it into reusables, recyclables, unusable waste, and compost (if you really want to drive the point home:). Maybe even do an exercise where you trace the materials back to where they came from (like a forest), followed by a lesson on how to use less...

That might be a step towards cutting litter off at the source!! maybe...

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Pywacket 4 years, 1 month ago

none2~ regarding the bird nest that had cigarette butts incorporated into its structure--you say, "I don't know if it was good or bad, but at least those butts were being reused for something."

Not good. Those butts hold a high concentration of toxins and carcinogenic compounds. Do you know that nicotine is a major component in insecticides (which have cautions printed on the containers, advising us to wear gloves while using them and to change and wash our clothing after finishing the application)?

Do you suppose those concentrated compounds are doing anything beneficial for the tiny baby birds whose naked little bodies are snugged down in the nest next to them? Kinda doubt it. Even the eggs, which are permeable, probably absorb a dangerous amount of those toxins, giving the chicks a bad start in life. Cig butts are one item you don't want to see recycled! At least, not by innocent creatures who can't first leach the toxins out of the things (if that would be humanly possible).

Cigarette butts are also a known hazard to any animal, wild or domestic, that may inadvertently ingest them.

Litterers, of cigarette butts or any other nonbiodegradable or toxic trash, are inconsiderate, selfish, lazy pigs. You can learn everything you need to know about someone if you observe them littering--which is this: you don't want to pursue the acquaintance.

Kudos to the letter writers and everyone else who picks up litter and disposes of it. We try to collect what we can while out on walks or at the parks too. But obviously it would be easier to keep the environment clean if so many jerks weren't dumping stuff on the ground and in the water in the first place.

Don't even get me started on how disgusting it is to go to a lake and see all manner of crap (pop & beer cans, plastic junk, styrofoam, etc) lapping along the shore. What kind of person doesn't see how ugly that looks? Don't they go to the lake or the park themselves to enjoy the outdoors? Why do they want to ruin it? I will never understand this.

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JHawker 4 years, 1 month ago

I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Rettig's Letter to the Editor. We as a community need to value nature and not disrespect it with littering. As a student, I walk all over KU's campus and see cigarette butts all over the grass and sidewalks and know for a fact that a student need simply to walk 20 steps in any direction to throw it away. I once was driving behind someone near Runza and saw them toss out fast food bag full of trash onto the street, I was flabbergasted. I honestly wondered at the time what number I could call to report them, I was seething. I applaud Ms. Rettig's efforts to teach our community's children, thank you.

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BruceWayne 4 years, 1 month ago

I limit my littering to Missouri.

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none2 4 years, 1 month ago

kristyj (anonymous) says…

i had to clean up a half-eaten shrimp cocktail out of my lawn last week. who walks around a residential neighborhood eating shrimp?

Maybe someone didn't eat it, but left it there for the wildlife to eat.

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Calliope877 4 years, 1 month ago

I can honestly say as a smoker, I don't toss my butts out the window while driving. I always pack my ashtray full, then empty its contents into a bag, then throw it in the dumpster. It takes very little time or effort to do so. Oddly enough, a lot of people who get into my car don't know I smoke...Yankee Car Jars are awesome!

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 1 month ago

The Letter to the Editor writer, Kelly Rettig, is a Kindergarten teacher at Cordley. She demonstrates in word and action the reason so many have been lobbying to preserve our schools and teachers. It is because of high quality teachers such as Kelly that Lawrence Public Schools makes such a positive impact on children. She is one of the reasons why budget cuts must be made as far removed from children as possible.

Thank you, Kelly! Your hard work and life-example is appreciated!

Okay, I am done with my off-topic comment.

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kristyj 4 years, 1 month ago

i had to clean up a half-eaten shrimp cocktail out of my lawn last week. who walks around a residential neighborhood eating shrimp?

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none2 4 years, 1 month ago

AtlasShrugging (anonymous) says…

If I throw a banana peal out the window that is composting not littering.

What about citrus peelings? Do they decompose well along the road, or do you need to throw something out with them to help -- like a fast food drink or at least the ice cubes?

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AtlasShrugging 4 years, 1 month ago

If I throw a banana peal out the window that is composting not littering.

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rosben 4 years, 1 month ago

Don't be a litterbug - be a glitterbug!

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none2 4 years, 1 month ago

As to butts, I did once see a sparrows nest that was partially made up of cigarette butts that were left at a nearby golf course. I don't know if it was good or bad, but at least those butts were being reused for something.

As to litter, I guess I'm really old. I could have sworn that there was an expression of "Every litter bit hurts" that Lady Bird Johnson sanctioned during her anti-litter campaign. I also remember the Native American in a chief's head gear with a tear rolling down his cheek as he looked over the landscape.

I don't know if litter has gotten better or worse. I would guess worse simply because there are many more people now plus materials like plastic don't all decompose easily and many things are made out of them now-a-days.

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macon47 4 years, 1 month ago

did some one mention the disposable dirty diaper ? really speaks well of parent hood

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olmsted78 4 years, 1 month ago

Many clean it up. This obviously is only part of the solution. Many also rant, joke and generally comment on threads/blogs. A topic has been presented and we are just obviously commenting on it. Of course, writing or ranting about litter isn't going to directly fix it. It does however remain a distinct possibility that discussion can sometimes be a means to action.

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kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

I agree. Everyone should take responsibility and clean it up! Are you taking the time to pick it up? Or are you just walking over it?

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lily 4 years, 1 month ago

I was not happy when I saw 2 of the St. Patrick's Day Parade workers driving around in their carts tossing their cigarettes out. Neither paid attention where they threw it and one landed at a kid's feet. What an example. "It's just a cigarette" doesn't mean it isn't litter.

People toss things too casually.

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ku12345 4 years, 1 month ago

obviously getting on a blog and ranting about smokers and people who litter isn't going to solve a problem. If you want something fixed then get up and go try to fix it. All of you are complaining and very few of you are actually going out and cleaning up.

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 1 month ago

perhaps a butt exchange program. turn in 20 butts, get a $0.50 discount on your next pack. or something along those lines. like the old soda bottle deposit.

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kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

Smokers who now treat outdoor spaces as public ashtrays may reconsider their behavior when they learn that cigarette butts are made of plastic, not of cotton and paper; and worse, that cigarette butts contain chemicals that can kill some of the animals that occupy critical positions in aquatic communities. It is important that smokers' littering behavior be modified to decrease this source of pollution. Enough is enough!!!!

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olmsted78 4 years, 1 month ago

Smokers, deal with holding that smelly tobacco stick until you can throw it into an ashtray or garbage can .....there's one nearby, even if you can't see it yet. That is the price you should pay for that generally pointless habit. I have some experience in this, unfortunately. Those filters do not breakdown quickly. If you're not already near an ashtray just take a second to bend over, step on the remaining "white" portion of the smoke, rip the filter from the tobacco wrap and throw that filter into some type of trash container, and repeat. If you are too lazy to do this, then you should be deemed too lazy to smoke.....fined, and forced to pick up old butts off the street.

People who litter other "waste" absolutely blow my mind. I could go on and on as most could. Again, fined and forced to pick up trash off of our roads.

Just stop. Stop doing that. Go get some help.

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feeble 4 years, 1 month ago

it's even worse when they chuck those little plastic sauce containers, full of ranch or ketchup or bbq sauce, out the window on highway. Doing so should be a felony.

There is also some evidence that litter leads to increased crime: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0262-4079(08)62997-8

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trinity 4 years, 1 month ago

and also areunorml, throwing a lit ciggie butt out the car window can absolutely set dry grass or even a big ol' hay bale on fire. it just makes me sooooooo angry when i see somebody chuck a sack of fast food trash out the window of a car flying down the road!!!! grrrrr...what slobs.

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Stuart Evans 4 years, 1 month ago

littering definitely sucks. Throw your trash on the floorboard of your car and toss it out next time you fill up your tank or go to the carwash.

and it's not just the cups, papers & bottles. smokers are some of the worst possible offenders. tossing your butts out wherever it suits you is disgusting. The area around my apartment mailbox is littered with hundreds, if not thousands, of butts. next time you go outside, look on the ground, and you will most likely find at least half a dozen cig. butts.

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kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

What happened to all the public awareness campain efforts? I grew up on "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute!"

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jehovah_bob 4 years, 1 month ago

And somewhere in the world Iron Eyes Cody sheds a tear.

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kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

Consider the "bar raised!". Thanks for posting this. I'll use the info the next time I talk to the guys that mow over the litter in the field and leave the chopped up mess everywhere!

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Benjamin Roberts 4 years, 1 month ago

It amazes me how casually people litter. While walking, they unwrap a candy bar and drop the wrapper. Pulling into the fast food restaurant for another soda, they casually toss out the old rubbish. A whole generation has not only been trained to believe that everything is disposable, but that they can dispose of it anywhere.

I know this will draw some criticism. However, littering is a crime and is addressed in our ordinances. The Lawrence Anti-Litter Ordinance (Code 1979, 14-101) provides for fines up to $1000 and a jail term of not more than 180 days. Many would argue that law enforcement has more urgent crime to fight and there is no counter argument to that. However, were society to "raise the bar" and enforce this simplest of society's decency standards it would have an effect on all behavior. It is simply a matter of tolerance and boundaries.

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kamr 4 years, 1 month ago

I'm thrilled to hear of the city workers running after the trash. We are dependant on their service. Can't we make their job easier?
My hubby saw a Deffenbaugh recycling truck pick up our neighbor's materials yesterday and watched as they let loose a ton of litter in the air! They didn't go after it.
WAY to GO city wrokers we thank you for caring!!!

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LadyJ 4 years, 1 month ago

Ironic, as I'm reading this I finally got to wondering what that loud city truck had been doing for quite some time in the street outside my house. I look out the window and see a city trash truck sitting and a worker running around with bag picking up trash.

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