On a recent mild February afternoon, my husband and I walked the 1.1 miles from our house down to the end of Unionville road. We walk this rural stretch fairly often in all seasons. Occasionally we’ll walk the whole 3+ mile country block. Woods and fields line the road. Deer & eagles are prevalent, with a chance of turkeys. In the spring & summer, frogs plop into the roadside ditches as we pass.
On this occasion, I was inspired to bring along an empty 40 lb bird seed bag and our “gribbygrab” (the pinchy tool on a stick, commonly used as an aid for reaching stuff). Wowsers! We only were able to clean up about 95% of the litter before our bag was filled to overflowing. My husband had to lug it the mile back to our house. In the trash roundup quest, I tested out my relatively new knees by jumping back & forth across the rain-filled roadside drainage ditches ( with an occasional assist from Ken).
Did you know that plastic straws take 200 years to decompose, & plastic bottles average 450 years in the open, & up to 1,000 years in a landfill? Even then, they don’t go away. They just decompose into microplastic particles. Our lovely desecrated roadsides- it’s a shame, littering is! (an actual crime also)
I separated the litter out, and put what was recyclable into our bins to take to town later. On our road, the favored litter seems to be comprised mostly of the little plastic liquor bottle nips, beer cans (rarely of any good taste- I suspect that most craft beer drinkers don’t tend to throw trash on the roads, nor drink in their vehicles), Macdonald’s plastic soda cups, complete with straws & lids- none of which are made of 1 or 2 recyclable plastic, and Gatorade plastic bottles.
It’d be great to have a ban on single-use plastic bags, now being voted on in Annapolis! Several of us were there last Monday to lobby in support of the bill. Who is not tired of seeing these bags hanging from our trees, littering our fields, yards, & everywhere the wind blows?
In the future, we will all have to reduce our dependence on plastic. Plastics did not become a mainstream part of our world until the 1960s, post WWll economy. Us baby boomers remember plastic combs, toothbrushes, & the wonder of the whole Tupperware party gig. Companies will have to take ownership of their packaging and pay the price or pass it on to us. We should vote for a bottle, can, & plastic redemption laws, as many states have in place. I did get money back for our bottles at a redemption center this summer, while in Maine.
Meanwhile, don’t litter, just say “no thank you” to straws, recycle & reuse what you can, & bring your own mugs, & containers. Vote for the environment, & encourage your elected officials to do so as well!
I wish you litter-free strolls in our fine county!