There was a time in America’s history where our common language didn’t include the word litter. I grew up in an age when tossing something out the of car window was the accepted norm; at least in the segment of society I lived within.
This began to change on a dark Sunday evening outside Newport, RI when I and a couple of Navy buddies stopped along a back road to relieve ourselves and dispose of the physical remains of a case of beer in the roadside ditch.
We had no more than completed both tasks when a flashing red light appeared before us and two uniformed officers were asking for our ID cards, informing us of what city, county, and state laws we had violated, and explaining the consequences of our misdeeds in both the civil and the military justice systems. It wasn’t looking good for us.
However, once we had cleaned up all traces of our litter (a new word for me) they decided to cut us some slack and let us return to base with only a slap on the wrist and a stern warning about ever being caught again! I’m not going to claim I never littered after that but if I did, it was far less frequent.
During the late 1960s the ecology or environmental movement blossomed in America and public service TV ads began espousing “give a hoot, don’t pollute” lifestyle. One commercial featured a proud American Indian chief (Iron Eyes Cody) standing above a Los Angeles freeway and as he viewed all the automobiles spewing toxic fumes into the air, a tear ran down his cheek.
I never got over that image and its impact on me. Ever since I’ve pretty much been on board the anti-pollution, Mother Earth, tree-hugging, green is keen, train to a better future. I’m not perfect and I’m probably not going to let a few endangered one-eyed pink skinks stand in the way of needed progress but, it does anger me when people turn a blind eye to the callous raping of the environment.
I could now get into a diatribe about the fracking for natural gas in Eastern Ohio, drinking water that explodes when a match is struck near it, the environmental dangers associated with deep-sea drilling, and so much more. But, I’m not going to. All I’m going to do is refer you to a column Angie Sheppard wrote for the Times-Gazette about what commonly goes on at our many recycling drop off points in Highland County.
Iron Eyes Cody died many years ago but there, unfortunately, is little reason for him to stop shedding tears.
Click HERE for Angie’s column.