Back in the 1970’s there was a commercial with an American Indian standing beside a highway as litter was thrown from a car. A close-up of the Indian’s face showed a tear coming down because the American landscape was being destroyed by such careless action. That is what came to mind this past weekend as I walked along a nature preserve on Harsens Island. For those who may not be familiar with the Blue Water Area, Harsens Island is accessible only by boat or car ferry. There are a lot of natural areas on the island along with residential and commercial property. We were parked on a dirt road that runs between two nature preserve areas taking photographs.
As I strolled down the road looking for items to photograph I was appalled at the amount of trash that had been thrown into the water filled “ditch” between the road and the nature preserve. Not only is litter unbecoming to the landscape, but plastic, paper, and other pieces of trash can be harmful to wildlife if swallowed. I feel that if you are capable of transporting the cups, wrappers, bottles, etc. from where ever you acquired them, you should be able to transport the remaining packaging or wrapper back to an appropriate trash container. It was at that time that I decided to take photographs of a small portion of the litter I saw and create this blog on littering.
Over the years penalties and fines have been enacted for those caught littering. There is a considerable amount of variation from state to state on the penalties and fines which are based on the amount of litter that was thrown, the type of litter, and where it was left. States also vary on the criminal charges imposed, with everything from a civil infraction to a felony charge with prison time. To find out where your sate rates visit The National Conference of State Legislatures.
Many of these changes that have happened over the years can be accredited to Pollution Prevention: Keep America Beautiful, an organization that in working to bring awareness to how pollution damages the environment aired an advertisement for the first time on Earth Day in 1971. That ad featured Native American actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody and had the tagline “People Start Pollution. People can stop it.” Chief Iron Eyes Cody became known as “The Crying Indian.”
That one advertisement created by Keep America Beautiful was named one of the top 100 advertising campaigns of the 20th Century and Chief Iron Eyes Cody has a star bearing his name on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. The ad campaign resulted in a reduction in litter of approximately 88% in 300 communities, 38 states and several countries. It is sad to think that now, 43 years later, littering remains a problem. Whether a small isolated island, the expressway system or city streets, people throw their trash on the ground rather than wait until an appropriate receptacle can be located. The problem is significant enough that companies and organizations adopt sections of roadways where they perform regular cleanup of trash left behind. Hopefully someday we will reach the point where this is not necessary, where people take pride in their land and littering is no longer an issue. If you are a person that litters, please reconsider your actions. If you are a person that does not litter, thank you for your care and consideration of the environment and landscape.