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Squashing the Litter BugPosted Thursday, April 22, 2010, at 10:01 AM
Today is Earth Day, and though I've written about the environment before in hopes of promoting sustainable living and green behavior, right now I will tackle a much more basic issue: littering. For me, this is one of those things you learn as a child -- don't steal, don't play in the street, don't throw trash on the ground. But obviously, not everyone feels that way, including those people who deposited their fast food wrappings on the street outside my house just the other day.
Because I have never been a litterer, it's hard for me to understand the reason behind it. Is it really too much to ask that, once you finish your hamburger, you dispose of the packaging in your home trash can rather than on the street? Does it really smell so much that you have to throw it out of the car immediately? Unless there were fish sauce and Limburger cheese on it, I just don't think so.
Even though I feel it's pretty ridiculous to have to name the environmental implications of throwing foreign objects into the natural world, here we go. Depending on the sizes and shapes of the containers, small animals can get trapped or caught in litter. They can also ingest the waxy paper and plastic substances, which of course they are not adapted to eating, and become ill. Even human health is affected by litter, which can attract vermin and support the growth of bacteria.
From what can be called a more practical aspect, littering also has economic impacts. As I learned from Marshall Municipal Services personnel earlier this week, discarded trash and other items can get caught in city storm sewers, creating blockages that cause flooding. Then, MMS must take the time to retrieve the material, possibly from pipes far underground. In addition, litter is generally viewed as unsightly and can be off-putting to tourists, who are a source of revenue for many businesses in our area.
I know that not everyone has as much respect for Mother Earth as I do, and I'm sure there are people who have even more. But, especially in an area where land itself is truly the livelihood for many families, can't we all care enough to dispose properly of our trash?
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Sydney is a former staff writer for the Democrat-News. She received degrees from University of Missouri in both music and magazine journalism. She played oboe with the Marshall Philharmonic Orchestra and the Marshall Municipal Band while she was in Marshall.