Thursday, March 16, 2006


There certainly is a lot of garbage in and on the side of the road in Orange County. Riding a bicycle and having to pay attention to where one's wheels are about to tread creates a connection with the environment that motor vehicle operators can never hope to achieve. This disconnection motorists have might help explain why some of them decide to discard waste onto the streets from their vehicles, but is by no means an excuse. Some places have higher concentrations of refuse and can be chalked up to socio-economic factors, but when it comes to littering, no boundaries are an excuse.

While there is an inordiante amount of garbage on the streets of our fair cities, there appears to be certain by-products that are carelessly discarded more so than others. What type of person consumes these goods? What is their motivation, or lack thereof?

The least obvious but most present discarded item on our streets would be the infamous cigarette butt. Cigarette butts are discarded in two ways onto the streets and it's tough to decide which one is more reprehensible. There is the obvious throwing of a lit cigarette out instead of snuffing it in an ashtray. California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Districts are obviously interested in identifying these perpetrators. The other popular method of littering our streets with cigarette butts is the "dump the ashtray out while stopped at a traffic signal". This seems to happen at left turn signals where there is a traffic island more than anywhere else and is most easily identified when fresh by the mound of butts and grey ash that has not blown away by passing traffic yet. Either way, the California Vehicle Code frowns upon littering our roadways, lit or not.
The most visible prevalent items commonly discarded onto our roadways is fast food refuse. That tossed McDonald's cup, or bag of wrappers and half-eaten Big Mac are a sad, yet common sight. The fast pace of the automobile dependency in Orange County has gone a long way to further this fast food nation, which unfortunately includes the tonnage of post-drive through wrappers that litter our streets.
There a simple and obvious answer as to what kind of person decides to litter. In a nutshell, this is the kind of person who lacks pride and is selfish. They lack pride in themselves for being so lazy. They lack pride in their community by making it a less pleasant for others and taxing municipal resources to clean up their mess. They lack pride in their state, country and planet. They are selfish because they don't care about the consequences of their actions, otherwise their conscience would not let them flick that cigarette butt into the dry brush on the side of the road.



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