Litter trashes environment for us, those who will follow


Andrew San Juan

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

It is appalling to see the amount of garbage gathering on our city streets, but even more so, sometimes twice or three times the amount along our county roads. Every roadside and ditch seems to be littered with detritus of every kind, but the most common offenders that I have noticed have been plastic bottles, styrofoam cups, aluminum cans, plastic bags and foam packaging, often in that order. Occasionally, it is not uncommon to see entire filled trash bags along the highway.

Are people so apathetic that they casually throw these items out of their vehicle’s windows? Do people even care about the environment and the filth that they live in, and what their children and all other descendants will inherit? Have we as a society completely forgotten that there is only one Earth and that it is our job to maintain it, if not for our own survival, but for those who follow us?

I understand that this is not the most progressive part of the country, but think about it this way. This area was been trying to attract new businesses, industry and tourists. What kind of signal does it send to prospective employers, prospective workers and their families, tourists and even retirees — another core group of residents we are trying to lure to our area — when our roadsides, especially our main entrances into town along U.S. Highway 17 and 17 Bypass, are covered with garbage? Imagine how that reflects on us as citizens next time you are tempted to thoughtlessly toss out your next drink. How hard can it be to simply dispose of that item when you get home? How would you like it if someone chucked some garbage in your front yard? If the current situation is any indication, I am sure that some people around would not mind at all. A sign of the times, it seems.

I know that this will probably rile a great number of people, but it is high time that North Carolina return to bottle deposit laws, as well as implement a statewide plastic bag ban, or at the very least, impose a 5- to 10-cent tax on disposable bags to foster expanded use of reusable bags.

Lastly, because county garbage pickup service does not exist, residents are responsible for taking their household waste to county recycling centers. It is during this transport process that I believe a significant amount of rural roadside litter occurs, typically because of an uncovered truck bed or unsecured cargo. How hard can it be to put a tarp on your truck, tie down lighter weight trash bags, or otherwise keep items from flying away on the way to the recycling center? Even if you do not personally care about the environment, do it for the benefit of your children and descendants, who will undoubtedly thank you. Don't be the ostrich generation.

Andrew San Juan

Elizabeth City