Thursday, October 28, 2010

Photo a day - nostalgic trash


I did a double take yesterday afternoon while sitting on a freeway onramp in North Long Beach. The upward slope along the side of the onramp as it climbed toward the freeway was long and ugly. The plants populating the slope were mostly dried out dead weeds. The weeds were decorated with trash of every description. I was thinking about the trash and could not come up with a reason why there was so much of it. It’s pervasive. Every onramp is the same. Trash festoons everything. I tend to project my own habits Freewaytrashonto other people. I don’t litter so I expect the same from other people. I go out of my way to throw my trash away properly. It’s a habit reinforced by a wife who gives me a look if I even think about chucking an applecore out the window. So where does it all come from? All you need to do is look down when waiting to enter a freeway. The stuff piled up in the gutters is amazing.

As I neared the end of the onramp, I noticed a coke bottle. I was instantly taken back 30 years to a time before plastic bottles. I can remember when the humble coke bottle littered every conceivable public and private space. There used to be broken glass everywhere. I don’t think I’ve seen a discarded coke bottle since the early 80s. The world changed again and I did not notice. How odd.

Technorati Tags: ,

1 comment:

Ben Finney said...

> I was thinking about the trash and could not come up with a reason why there was so much of it.

Here are several explanations, any or all of which could apply:

* You might not be seeing a large amount of litter in a short time. The trash has accumulated for a long time because clean-up work is done infrequently and/or poorly compared to previous decades.

* You might be seeing litter that was mostly not thrown where you see it. The trash has collected from a wide area into the gutter, because rains wash it there and it collects naturally at that point.

There certainly is a large component of people deliberately littering, though. At the Keep America Beautiful site there are three simple explanations given for why regular people would litter in a public space:

* They feel no sense of ownership, even though areas such as parks and beaches are public property.

* They believe someone else—a park maintenance or highway worker—will pick up after them.

* Litter already has accumulated.