Trash Tossing

Ah, this place called Earth. Stop for a minute. Look around you. Try to see your earthly surroundings as if through the eyes of a fascinated child. Bask in the majesty of the Great Smoky Mountains or stimulate and overwhelm your senses with the geologic colors and magnitude of the Grand Canyon; the lush splendor of a giant redwood; a 150 feet tall tulip, an ash, a sycamore or a weeping willow. Stop for a minute on your way to work and behold the morning sun rising over the lofty landscape; its light feeding the plants through photosynthesis and at dusk be still and behold the full moon.

Stop for a minute and think before you throw that empty plastic bottle in the river, on the city streets and sidewalks or in the public park, thus disparaging our environment. There are a number of things in this world that aggravates me, but none as pesky and infuriating as careless, indifferent and insolent litterers. Yes, you know who you are; the ones leaving your Dunkin Donuts cups behind on mail boxes, subways, and park benches or tossing their plastic beverage bottles audaciously on city streets in spite of the presence of onlookers. Perhaps it’s because we live in a world where people are becoming increasingly rude and inconsiderate.

During my formative years growing up partly in Haiti, I received a social and familial education unlike the education I received in my catholic school in Port- au-Prince. My family and even my extended community of family friends and neighbors contributed to my upbringing. Proper manners were an integral part of my life on the island. My mother—Marie Evelyne—was an advent figure in my learning of proper manners and etiquette and one such behavioral teachings was to always “pick up after yourself ” and to leave a place as clean as you found it. In Haiti, even the very poor adhere to a strict code of what is considered to be socially acceptable behavior. Hence once in America, I continued this tradition of being conscious in how I conduct myself in a public setting and one such conduct is not tossing my rubbish on public property. Now some may scowl reading this upon perceiving it as some type of a harangue about how they should conduct themselves but it’s not meant to be. I hope to express the frustrations most likely felt by fellow pedestrians who too are probably fed up with straddling litter on the city streets.

“America, we’ve got a problem,” declares some state legislatures in an internet article titled “Toxic torpedoes.” Apparently there has been an influx of truckers tossing bottles full of their urine out the window, littering our countryside. This further exemplifies the problem with people—who for esoteric reasons disregard the environment in which they live through blatant effrontery in disposing of their debris on public property.

“Littering is a mindset problem… we need to make it socially un-acceptable to throw rubbish on the streets, “asserts an anonymous person in a letter to the editor in Design Week titled “It’ll take more than graphics to beat the litter problem.” He goes on to say, “Offenders must appreciate the link between dropping litter and the cost of cleaning it up and realize that litter is never thrown ‘away’—it’s just moved elsewhere.” This problem permeates apparently in other parts of the world, a number of people are ostensibly and collectively non- socially conscious when it comes to how they treat the environment. In Berlin, talking trash cans will soon thank people for not littering.

Another article in “The Science Teacher” promulgates that, “A 100-fold upsurge in human produced plastic garbage in the ocean is altering habitats in the marine environment.” This is based on a new study titled “Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition” (SEAPLEX), conducted by a graduate researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Apparently, in an area known as the “Great Garbage Patch”, the journal “Biology Letters” evinces that plastic shards in the surrounding area has risen 100 times over the last 40 years causing detrimental shifts in the natural habitats of marine animals in particular.

Let’s face it. The world is an ever evolving place. Now with the continuous dawning of the technological age, more and more “stuff ” will continue to surface for us to dispose of. Now, I am cognizant of the possibility that not all of us were taught proper social behavior or etiquette, or if you were, you have forsaken your social manners and public etiquette over the years, but the cliché “It’s never too late to learn” or in some cases “re-learn” social formalities rings true in this instance. So Stop for a minute, look around and find a trash receptacle and keep the earth green and clean.

-Jacques Fleury



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