The United States of Trash, Dog Crap, Rubber Bands and Dental Floss

UPDATE: September 20, 2016

Okay, I’ve had it up to here with the plastic bags of dog crap. Can somebody please explain this phenomenon to me? Is it happening elsewhere around the country, or only in my neighborhood? What I’m talking about (there’s more in the original post, below) is the popular new custom of dog owners who take the time to pack up their dog’s droppings in a baggie, only to leave the baggie sitting there on the ground, thus turning one problem (dog waste) into two problems (dog waste and plastic). I can’t fathom the thought process of a person who would do this. But I must be missing something, because, obviously, plenty of people find it defensible. Every day I encounter and more of these bags.

morecrap

 

June 16, 2016

TIME OUT for a culture rant.

Is there such a thing as an “undeveloping country”? We all know about the developing kind, but what about a formerly great country now in the throes of devolving? If there are such places, the United States has to be leading the pack. We live in a country where nobody wants to pay for, or take responsibility for, anything, and the results are starting to show. We see this in the bigger, macro sense. For instance, we are by some measures the wealthiest nation on earth, yet our infrastructure is rated 29th and is steadily falling to pieces.

But I see it in the small things, too. Take, for example, litter. I see litter and trash as a sort of bellwether for bigger problems. Our airports, to pick one spot (and to keep this conversation at least nominally within the sphere of air travel), are getting dirtier and dirtier. I see discarded cups and cans in the jet bridges, overspilling barrels, filthy curbsides, and apron and ramp areas that are just aswarm with trash. It didn’t used to be this way, and it’s not this way anywhere else in the world. I was at LAX not long ago on a windy afternoon, and the wind currents, whipping between two concourses, had created a sort of garbage cyclone — a great, rotating, three-story cloud of paper and plastic and styrofoam and dust. It was awesome.

There’s the litter itself, and also the human indifference to it. I’m not sure those are different things, but it drives me crazy when I see an airport employee step over a crushed coffee cup or a wadded up newspaper sitting on the floor of the jetway. Hey, it’s not my job! When I do the preflight, walk-around inspection of my aircraft, I’ll often scoop up an entire arm-full of refuse along the way — cups, bags, fasteners, locks, miscellaneous plastic luggage shards, wheels, and so on — because heaven forbid the apron workers bother to pick any of it up. Would this happen in Munich or Dubai or Osaka?

Then there’s my neighborhood. I’ll let a picture do the explaining. This snapshot was taken recently in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This is a it extreme, but it’s not unusual, and even the tidier neighborhoods around here are strewn with litter in a way that simply wasn’t the case in years past. Some of the traffic islands around Boston look like a dumpster exploded. When did it become acceptable for drivers at red lights to simply heave their trash out the window? Because, apparently, everybody is doing it.

Trash 1

We also need to talk about dog shit.

Pet owners in my neighborhood are for the most part diligent when it comes to cleaning up after their dogs, tidily stuffing the droppings into small plastic bags. So far, so good, right? Except, the new custom is to simply leave the plastic bag sitting on the ground. All of a sudden, everywhere — on the curbs, in the gutters, in the bushes, in parking lots — there are knotted plastic bags full of dog shit. As the kids would say, WTF? Why would you go through the trouble of bagging up the waste if you’re just going to leave it there? If anything you’ve made the problem worse. Now, instead of dog crap spoiling the ground, there’s dog crap and plastic. The pictures below were taken in a two-day span. The photo in the center of the lower set is the most perplexing, because this particular bag was left right next to a wide-open trash dumpster:

Dog Shit

Dog Shit 2

This one, though, is my favorite. Here you can actually see four separate bags. This is just around the corner from my house, and I watched as the bags were added, one at a time, over a period of several days, presumably by the same dog-walker:

Four Bags

And when I say it’s the small things, sometimes it’s the really small things.

Somebody needs to explain where the profusion of plastic dental flossers has come from. These blasted little things are everywhere. I never, ever, see pedestrians or drivers actually flossing, yet somehow these discarded flossers are popping up on every sidewalk and curb. Do they self propagate? Is there an army of secret night-flossers who roam around in the dark, keeping their gums healthy while sprinkling the ground with these things? (And yes, I know about the flossers in Infinite Jest.) I’m all for dental hygiene, but take your disgusting mouth picks home with you and dispose of them properly.

It’s funny, because a recent Associated Press investigation revealed that flossing your teeth is mostly a waste of time. This has been an open secret, apparently, for some time, but dental professionals have been loath to go public on the matter, perhaps fearing backlash from the influential flossing lobby. “Big Floss” has deep pockets. I learned about this in The Guardian, which has been loving the story. The Brits gave up on flossing years ago, and have long been laughing at the American obsession with the practice. It’s ironic, I know, that the Brits would be lecturing to anybody about dental health, but they may have this one right (does anybody remember that old episode of The Simpsons, when Lisa’s sadistic dentist terrifies her with a copy of “The Big Book of British Smiles”?). The big question, of course, is whether or not this report will result in a reduction of the number of plastic flossers littering our cities.

These beautiful collages (I actually spent a fair bit of time tinkering with the placement and textures of each image) was compiled over just two or three brief walks through my neighborhood:

Flosser Collage

Flossers Diamond

FlossersEverywhere

Flossers Collage 3

People don’t seem to care much for public property. Neither, if the streets of my neighborhood are any indication, do they care about the their own. Consider the two front yards in the photos below. The top picture shows the house directly next to mine. Mind you I don’t live in an Appalachian trailer park, but in a trendy big-city neighborhood where property values have skyrocketed — a phenomenon untarnished by the fact that certain landlords can’t be bothered with even minimal maintenance. The bottom house is several streets away, on the border with Cambridge and West Somerville — an equally expensive area, where renovated two-family homes, with no backyard and neighbors only inches away on either side, can sell for upwards of a million dollars:

Yard1

Yard2

And our final culprit is the United States Postal Service.

Letter carriers around here carry bundles of mail tied with rubber bands. Lots of bundles, and lots of rubber bands. And when they unwrap the bands, what do you think they do with them? Thats right, and so the sidewalks where I live are littered with thousands of little brown noodles. What you see in the photo is about a week’s worth of bands picked up from around my neighborhood. Would it really be that difficult for USPS workers to shove these things into a pocket? And in case you didn’t realize it, they’re reusable!

Rubber Bands

And with that, for now, I am finished. Curmudgeon meter pegged.

 

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55 Responses to “The United States of Trash, Dog Crap, Rubber Bands and Dental Floss”
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  1. tora stone says:

    When I was a kid we would collect pop bottles and beer bottles, take them back to the shop and get money for them. No broken glass all over the streets. We would even ask at houses if they had any to get rid of.

    These elastic bands are strong and useful. You could gather lots of them, soak them in a bucket of soapy water and dry them, bag them up or link them in a paper clip and sell them in small batches.

    I am quite sure you don’t see this litter problem in Japan.

  2. Lurk says:

    On rubber bands. A long time ago I used to work for The Royal Mail and I’d walk around the sorting offices and there would be a litter of bands (ours were letter box red) everywhere. Being tidy minded and *ahem* careful with my money I asked why they weren’t being picked up for re-use. Turned out somebody had done the sums and it was cheaper to sweep them up and bin them and use new rather than collect them. It may be the USPS has done similar sums and decided that having the postman lug the bands back for re-use is too expensive. There is also the problem that rubber bands seem to perish at an unpredictable rate and the hassle/delay/costs incurred as a result of packets of letters falling apart because of perished bands may also influence the decision not to re-use them.

    Putting that lot to one side, they _should_, at the very least, put the damn things in a bag for disposal back at the sorting office.

    P.S.
    You’re right about a lot of the new airline liveries. No style, no elegance. In a word, tasteless.

  3. Liz says:

    I found this post by searching for what people had written about the bizarre phenomenon of the flosser litter. What the heck? And only to find that you’re in Cambridge as I am. I am 100% in agreement about the “undeveloping” characterization. I despair as I walk or drive in the area at the sight of trash strewn sidewalks and roadways. We are becoming a country of “deplorables” IMO.

  4. Mo says:

    Sadly, people seem more self-absorbed with every year that goes by. I apparently live in a neighborhood with both less-then-conscientious dog owners AND passive aggressive neighbors. I walk my dog twice a day a dutifully pick up after her. Many of my neighbors do the same. However, one has a tendency of dropping the bags along the way with the intention of collecting them again on the return trip. She talks on her phone while walking the dog so I guess it is too inconvenient to hold the phone and the dog and the poop bag. She doesn’t always get the bag on the way back. One day I came home to find one of the bags in my mailbox. I guess some thought it was mine and wanted to teach me a lesson. After all, I have a dog, so it MUST be me, right? Sigh . . . At least the people down the street who never picked up after their giant schnauzer moved out.

  5. dave houston says:

    I see lots of coffee cups. Many are tossed away within a few feet of a garbage can. Slobs. How hard can it be to walk over the extra few feet and put it in the garbage can.

    I think it’s s symptom of a larger problem. I think people don’t want to take personal responsibility for anything anymore. They have become reliant on the government to take care of them

  6. dave houston says:

    I see lots of coffee cups. Many are tossed away within a few feet of a garbage can. Slobs. How hard can it be to walk over the extra few feet and put it in the garbage can.

    I think it’s s symptom of a larger problem. I think people don’t want to take personal responsibility for anything anymore. They have become reliant on the government to take care of them.

  7. Jennifer. says:

    I had a sighting! I saw a woman flossing in her car, using one of the plastic flossers. She was stopped a light, and seemed very focused on her task. I wondered if she flossed only while stopped or if she worked on her teeth while her car was moving – seems like that could be dangerous for your gums – those picks are sharp.

  8. Fox Mulder says:

    In the state where I live, all yards or vacant lots must have a minimum of two wrecked cars per yard or vacant lot. In some cases, you can get credit for large boats. (There are no large bodies of water anywhere near where I live to use the boats on). Stacked tires are minimum 4 tires with no maximum. In the very rural area where I live, you are obligated to add rooms on to your modular/mobile homes until it looks like there is a house eating your mobile. This requirement includes quarter million dollar custom made log homes.

    There is a home near me that looks entirely site built, but it is a double wide mobile covered to look like a site built house. A 40 year old mobile across the street recently burned-the only parts not destroyed totally were the additions.

    We don’t have very good dental hygiene, so no flossing sticks; although you see an alarming number of people using them. Usually in restaurants when you are trying to eat.

  9. Dave T says:

    Disgusting as the photos are (their subjects, that is) the one that jumps out to me is the side yard with picket fence. The sloppy and ugly manner by which the cable TV wires were installed– or allowed to be installed– by the very OWNER of that property shows all you need to know about the utter disregard people have for good order, beauty, consideration, and their surroundings. What a disgusting mess! It is no wonder they regard other peoples’ space, including public space, with such contempt.

  10. Dave T says:

    Joe- “Lately”? Hardly. Thirty-five years ago it was Ronny Reagan who famously proclaimed, “Government IS the problem.” His fellow party compatriots, whether in Congress or the White House, have been proving him right ever since.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Joe- “Lately”? Hardly. Thirty-five years ago it was Ronny Reagan who famously proclaimed, “Government IS the problem.” His fellow party compatriots, whether in Congress or the White House, have been proving him right ever since.

  12. Reader says:

    Dear Eccentric Curmudgeon,

    Have you considered immigrating to Canada? 🙂 Based upon my experience, our Canadian friends are not only clean; they are GOOD LOOKING — not necessarily Australian good looking, but still not hard on the eyes, either!

    Rainman photographed odd items, too. lol

    Joking aside, I hear you.

    * * *

    Los Angeles Times
    February 2, 1985

    Toronto Resists N.Y. Look

    By the Associated Press

    Toronto — Urban garbage seems to be everywhere, except when you really need it.

    Director Sonny Grosso, in town to film episodes of CBS’ “Night Heat,” ordered a massive pile of garbage to make Toronto look more like New York.

    But when the film crew came back from a coffee break, they found the trash had been cleaned up. Filming had to be halted while Grosso ordered more garbage.

    The incident was reported in the American magazine This World, and a delighted city works commissioner Ray Bremner proudly showed off copies to aldermen at a recent meeting.

    © 1985 The Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times

  13. Aija says:

    this was an awesome piece of writing. I laughed, I agreed, I nodded my head many times, and having lived in many different suburbs of Boston for the longest part of my American life. You are totally right about the crap and the dirt and 3/4 million dollar properties that are ok with garbage being there and you make me laugh because it is ultimately so incredibly insane that somehow all that dirt, especially the tooth flosses, are now everywhere.

    I now live in another totally paradoxical area that makes no sense to anyone except to people who either vacation here (Hilton Head Island, SC) or own second property here. And I find it extremely comical that everything I thought about the various parts of Boston – I consider Boston my American home as I spent most of my American life IN and around Boston and know it better than most locals – you write about the way I used to think about.

    Awesome writing, enjoy your posts, please rant more often!!!

  14. James Clanton says:

    Unfortunately for most of us, it only takes a few slobs to create a huge mess.

    A while back a guy was walking his dog in front of my house. The dog, being a dog, took a big ol’ poop right on the street. The guy started to walk away so I said “I will give you a bag to pick that up with”. He replied, “no, he did not poop (well poop was not the word)on your lawn”. Dang. So, I did what any over reacting kind of guy would do. I jumped on my bike, and followed him home. Once I ascertained where he lived, I simply scooped the poop and returned it to him. Since he seemed to think that hard-scape was fair game, I deposited it on his driveway. I have not seen him walk by since.

  15. Sam says:

    For the most part,Patrick, I agree with you. But you forgot to mention that the dog shit is bio-degradeable and, in my opinion, a good fertilizer for your grass.

  16. Joe C says:

    Mike,

    San Francisco only banned plastic water bottles for the city government and for sale on city property. There are still millions of these things everywhere, and you can buy them in any corner store. Feel free to add to the problem if you visit.

  17. Mike says:

    While I agree that it’s disgusting what some folks do, you and I both grew up in Boston in the 70’s. Every hard surface was covered in broken glass and newspaper tubleweeds wandered everywhere.

    I recently saw a brief baseball clip from that era. My eyes were immediately drawn to all the garbage blowing around in the background.

    Also, while poop bags on the ground is just flatout weird, you must remember the poopie minefields from our youth. Dogs ran free and no one cleaned up nothing. “Check your shoes” was the mandate every time coming in from riding Huffies around Glass Shard Lot and passing through Jagged Rusty Metal Memorial Playground.

    Perhaps it’s the general tidiness of things that makes things pop out more. I was aghast at finding a Bud Light can at the edge of my lawn. “My Stars!”

  18. Mark Harrison says:

    I live in another country but I have been a frequent visitor to the USA over the past 30 odd years and over the past 40 years I have visited half of the rest of the world.

    Let me say at the outset; I love the USA, I love visiting there, I love the people, most of the people I have met in the USA fall well within one standard deviation of the population of the rest of the planet as being decent people.

    And I am sure you are a well meaning and decent person too.

    Caveats aside: If you believe that the problems of the USA are created by illegal immigrants from developing countries, you are sadly mistaken.

    I don’t think it is my place to tell you what I think your country’s problems are; but I think that (metaphorically) your country should be looking for a mirror, not a telescope.

  19. Dave B says:

    People are their own worst enemy.

  20. Kozmo says:

    Oh, I don’t think we need any help in this regard at all from anybody else from anywhere.

  21. Kozmo says:

    Exactly so. Little things DO matter, they are the canaries in the coal mine of our declining manners and attitudes and social disintegration.

    I can’t believe we abolished pull tabs for canned drinks and we rush to ban smoking everywhere only to create even MORE litter possibilities in other ways.

    The Pilot is spot-on with this critique. Americans are pigs. We complain about high taxes — well, some of that money goes to clean up the messes YOU make in public areas. Imagine the savings if people would simply STOP BEING LITTERBUGS! Cleaner streets, parks, forests, and waterways. Why is that so hard for us? Kipling was right to compare humans to the Bandar-Log, the monkey people, who leave chaos and garbage in their wake and are despised by the Free People of the jungle.

  22. Joe says:

    Your observation is same as mine. Somewhere along the way, Americans seem to have given up on their country. This is not surprising. Typically democratic governments are supposed to represent their people and reflect their values. Lately though, we’ve been told over and over again that our government (which we elected and which we are free to change about every 2-4 years) is actually the enemy that can’t do anything right.

    Why would you pay to support such a government? And when government is broke, public spaces and infrastructure are the first to start to feel the effects.

    Sorry, but until the mindset that government is the problem is washed away, you’ll continue to see the decay of America in lots more ways. I am not optimistic.

  23. re: eliminating plastics….
    You would not be able to have any sort of sterile procedure. IV, heart cath or heart bypass, kidney dialysis, etc.. ad infinitum, or pretty much any other procedure or treatment in a hospital without plastics. Be careful what you wish for.
    Yes, we used to have glass IV bottles, for instance. They are much heavier and utilize more fossil fuels to ship (for those of you that worry about such things) Point being, there is no “perfect environmental purity” to shoot for. There are trade offs in the modern world.
    I laughed when San Fran banned plastic water bottles. Just wait til the next earthquake that damages water lines… and they need emergency supplies of water.
    By the way, is it just a ban on bottled water, or are the plastic bottles banned for sodas too?

  24. RJT55 says:

    Amen, brother. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling lately both foreign and domestic. While I’ve never been enamored with airports in the US, the contrast to European airports of all sizes is beyond comprehension. Living in Vermont, while the litter problem is negligible, our roads are the finest the 19th century has to offer. Hopeful though, young people are recognizing the con and as the Reagan lovers die off, I’m off that age but not of that ilk, those who embrace Bernie Sanders might be able to pull off a Second New Deal

  25. Jack Sullivan says:

    Being the richest country in the world doesn’t mean a thing. Money doesn’t care who owns it. And if you think your street corner or airport is a mess, I’m operations manager at a shopping mall just outside Boston. I have a crew that spends four hours each morning picking up exterior litter from the previous day. I wish I had a buck for each syringe and dental floss thingy we find. We have to “snake” ladies toilets a least weekly to unclog pipes and remove nonorganic matter. Some/most people are lazy and/or pigs. Glance inside parked cars in a mall lot some day.

  26. Jennifer. says:

    For a delightful mashup of the two problems, I often see the little plastic flossers on the ramp at my airport. I pick up most of the trash I find, but I really hate touching things that have been between other people’s teeth.

    I have tried to figure out how they get there. Either they fall out of luggage, or the baggage handlers and tug drivers pick their teeth while they’re working then just drop the picks when they’re done. A+ for dental hygiene. F for general tidiness.

  27. Jonnie says:

    The United States has allowed allot of illegal immigration from certain Third World countries where respect for public spaces is minimal or non-existent. The values of these immigrants mend their way into society at large.

  28. Speed says:

    5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the world’s oceans works out to one per quarter million cubic meters of water. That would be one piece of plastic in 100 Olympic sized swimming pools. Neither impressive nor scary.

    If you want to check my numbers start with the volume of the worlds oceans: 1.332 billion cubic kilometers.
    http://www.livescience.com/6470-ocean-depth-volume-revealed.html

    As for the one million animals killed, specifying it that way makes a dead Great Blue Whale equivalent to one dead clam. Both are animals, each would count toward the million but they are quite different.

    And the number. One million? One significant digit? I suspect a guess. A WAG.

    For comparison, the world’s ocean fisheries product 186 billion pounds of fish annually.

    I like Nat Geo’s pictures. Their numbers … not so much.

  29. Jonathan Johnson says:

    We bought our property a few years ago. The previous occupiers apparently valued trash, BECAUSE THEY SAVED EVERY BLASTED PIECE OF IT. Not in any organized manner, either. Over 50 cubic yards of debris went to the landfill (and I’ve seen properties with oh, so much more.)

    It’s really not a new problem. While cities may have been cleaner in the past, many city people saw the rural countryside as their personal dump: many wide spots in the road near where I grew up has piles of track flowing downhill from the road. The closer you are to town, the worse it is.

    When the price of garbage collection is high and dump fees are astronomical, it’s no wonder people don’t care. It’s one thing where spending public money may be justified: make garbage collection “free” and our world just might be a cleaner place.

  30. dave says:

    Yeah, WHAT is it with the dental flossers, i see them when i walk in the residential area near my work. It just seems weird!

  31. Rod says:

    Back to the gyres for a minute. National Geographic’s facebook site said this today: “There are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean — and it kills one million animals every year.”
    To get an idea of what this means, imagine you could dispose of that plastic by throwing it away piece by piece. How long would it take if you threw away one piece every second around the clock? Well, if you kept at it, it would take you 166,425 years.

  32. b kooistra says:

    Oh! I’ll mention that at the large corporation I work for, the “environmental” department is always congratulating itself for this or that initiative that proves they’re helping the environment (I might add that this company has deep connections with coal and oil interests, so there’s probably some corporate guilt about all this).

    So, each year on earth day the environmental department hosts an outdoor lunch to celebrate stewardship of the environment. The meal? Hamburgers, byproduct of one of the most environmentally wasteful industries, meat production. The sandwiches are, naturally, served on styrofoam places!

  33. b kooistra says:

    Cracks me up your collection of dental flosser photos. I thought I was the only one compelled to photograph each and every one of these I come across.

  34. Nicholas Robinson says:

    I *lived* in Dakar for a year in 1975.

    All the beaches were pristine. There were no tourists, only fishermen—and us kids.

    Flip-flops.

    Go figure.

  35. MW says:

    I think your secret night-floss army are descended from the British Bedstead Men

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM-yIBVEgF4

  36. nonzenze says:

    Well, I sure hope cities and States will stop incentivizing people to comb through trash looking for $0.05 returnable cans. This putatively environmental measure to increase recycling leads to tons of garbage on the streets and ultimately in our rivers, bays and lakes.

  37. Mark R. says:

    re: the claim that petro plastic can be “recycled”

    Most of the plastic “recycling” is just P.R. for the plastics industry. It’s not really feasible, technically.

    Some plastic is burned (which is ultra toxic) and then the industry claims the heat value has been recycled (plastic is just a form of petrolum).

    It’s also toxic to make plastic, some more than others (PVC is about the worst0.

    Prevention is the only approach that makes sense.

    The fact we are too lazy as a society to wash a cup or plate is one of the factors that suggests we are in decline.

  38. Schenectady Andy says:

    Well said. I wish you’d made a phone video of the trash cyclone, though. That would have been awesomer.

  39. ReadyKilowatt says:

    Well, being the richest country on Earth means we pay someone to clean up after us. At least that’s what we think those trash collectors are doing. Some of this is location too. Out in the ‘burbs it is expected that you will shovel the sidewalk after a snow storm or someone will be happy to fine you. You also can get into trouble for shoveling your driveway out into the street. And finally, I think a lot of people see that disgusting disease-ridden trash that was touched by someone who might be “unclean” and won’t touch it, lest they catch cooties.

  40. MikeO says:

    It is amazing how pervasive trash is. I used to go on dive trips to very remote parts of Indonesia and there would be rafts of garbage floating by with the seaweed. We used to have a joke that the national fish of Indonesia is the flip flop becasue we’d see so many floating in the water.

  41. Speed says:

    More on plastic waste. A quick search on “plastic eating microbes” (without the quotes) turns up many interesting articles. Here’s one …

    Using Bacteria to Break Down Plastic Waste

    http://www.engineering.com/DesignerEdge/DesignerEdgeArticles/ArticleID/6109/Using-Bacteria-to-Break-Down-Plastic-Waste.aspx

  42. Speed says:

    Mark R. wrote, “The idea that we should create non-biodegradable “garbage” to have a quick drink or snack is bizarre.”

    Yes. Like glass and pottery.

    The problem is not with the plastic itself but what people do with it after use. Disposed of properly (re-cycled or landfill) plastic is not much of a problem. Disposed of the way it is in Patrick’s neighborhood is a problem. Not an insurmountable problem but a problem.

  43. Mark R. says:

    You probably have read about the thin film of iridium in the Earth’s crust left by the meteor 65 million years ago.

    After humans, the cockroach archeologists will stumble across the layer of plastic we are leaving and call our era the Plasticene.

    The idea that we should create non-biodegradable “garbage” to have a quick drink or snack is bizarre.

    Waste is a terrible thing to mind.

  44. Gene says:

    >Most of it is lightweight stuff that poses no real FOD hazard.<

    I once had to abort takeoff in a Mooney M 20 when I picked up a plastic bag on the pitot tube.

  45. Patrick Wright says:

    I lived for while in a small village in Germany. I was amazed at how early in the morning an old person would be out cleaning up not just their own front yard, but sweeping the actual street in front of their house as well. Not necessarily every day, but often enough you never saw any trash. And if they didn’t, well, the mayor would drop by and have a discussion with them about civic responsibility. I don’t think people have ever been that tidy in the US.

  46. Rod says:

    Even more awesome are the great, rotating gyres in the ocean, all now choked with plastic. For a real frisson of disgust, read Donovan Hohn’s “Moby Duck”.

    • Speed says:

      Rod wrote about the great, rotating gyres … all choked with plastic.

      Wikipedia says …

      The patch is not easily visible, because it consists of very small pieces that are almost invisible to the naked eye. Most of its contents are suspended beneath the surface of the ocean, and the relatively low density of the plastic debris is, according to one scientific study, 5.1 kilograms per square kilometer of ocean area (5.1 mg/m2).

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_garbage_patch

      Cambridge and Somerville should be so dirty. Maybe they should do something like this from Dianna Parker of NOAA …

      <I"It's not a hopeless situation. Marine debris is absolutely a solvable problem because it comes from us humans and our everyday practices. We can take any number of steps to keep it from entering the ocean and that can happen at the highest level with governments and it can happen at the lowest level individuals and everyday choices.”
      http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/podcast/june14/mw126-garbagepatch.html

      We have met the enemy and it is us.

    • Patrick says:

      Yeah, I know all about the Pacific trash gyres. Another thing to feel good about!

  47. Speed says:

    Re: Trash on the ramp. Nobody worries about FOD anymore? Walking past a piece of trash without picking it up could result in engine damage.

    Re: Dirty neighborhood. Not all are as ugly as yours. The blame is with the people who live there, the people who pass through there and the people charged with sweeping up and collecting the litter. In many clean neighborhoods the people who live there keep it clean. Some of us actually sweep out the gutter.

    Re: Trash in the terminal. This is a tough problem with a simple but not necessarily inexpensive solution. Every hour or so a hundred or two hundred people pass out through the gate (after sitting around for an hour or so) and another hundred or two hundred people pass in through the gate as they run to the bathroom. I seldom see lots of trash receptacles (this is a big part of the problem in my experience) or lots of cleaners cleaning up — where I do, things are fairly clean.

    • Patrick says:

      Most of it is lightweight stuff that poses no real FOD hazard. But I find metal and other hardware sometimes. The other day I picked up a fork, plus two broken-off luggage wheels that were pretty heavy.

  48. Charlie says:

    You should all the trash that is left outside of truck stops and rest areas. It is a shame how some truckers are incapable of using a garbage can.

  49. Fry says:

    It’s pathetic. I hate to reduce this to something as banal as “who raised these people”, but I can’t imagine my parents tossing trash out a car window.

    People don’t seem to realize that it’s the accumulation of little things that make the difference, and doing the little things right really isn’t that hard.

  50. Ed says:

    Isn’t the litter floating around your airplane when you do a walkaround a FOD danger? Or not so much?