Bill Packard: Live like a pig in your world, but don’t treat our world like that

Posted:  Sunday, June 18, 2017 - 8:45pm
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While I don’t care much for national news, the local stuff I find really interesting and there’s been some stories recently that got me thinking and that’s always a bad thing. There’s a situation out there that’s costing us a lot of money and grief and I can’t help but think that we’re taking the wrong approach. I’m talking about litter.

Every spring the DOT, municipal employees and dedicated volunteers pick up litter on the roadsides in this beautiful place we live. At the same time, there’s talk of banning plastic bags in some of the communities. Not surprising to the two, maybe three people that follow me, I think we need to look at this challenge with a different eye.

One year I participated in a roadside cleanup here in Union and we got a significant amount of trash with a small group of people and a relatively short period of time. Rockport has a great group of folks that pick up trash and Sheri Closter in Owls Head is one person roadside clean up demon. The guy that cleans up Route 1 by the cement plant is also awesome, as is the lady that walks her dog on Ash Point Drive in Owls Head and picks up trash every day.

I hate to say it, but I think we’re sending the wrong message. It occurs to me that the folks who most appreciate these people’s efforts are not the ones that are doing the littering. Is it possible that litterers are less concerned with their actions because somebody else will take care of it? People stop at Mic Mac Market just above my house and buy a piece of pizza because they have good pizza.

By the time they get to my front lawn, they’re done with the paper plate the pizza slice was on so they throw it out the window. I don’t fault Mic Mac or the paper plate and don’t want to ban either one. I fault the individuals who have no concern for anyone or anything other than themselves. I don’t believe there are enough volunteers or enough money to get ahead of the litterers if we don’t do something different. It’s possible(but I doubt it) that if I didn’t pick up the trash on my front lawn, people might think: “It’s too bad he has all that trash on his lawn. I won’t throw my paper plate out there, I’ll wait until I get to the woods down the road.”

I have to say I think the solution is education and social pressure. It won’t change things tomorrow, but if kids learn not to litter, they likely will become adults that don’t litter. I know. I know. That’s a long time to wait. But kids have a huge influence on their parents so it might not take as long as we think.

I’m reminded of seatbelts. Growing up with vehicles that didn’t have seatbelts and surviving, I was not very interested in wearing one. As my second child become older, strapped in his car seat, he wanted to know why I wasn’t wearing a belt, too.

I didn’t have a good answer and all these years later, I don’t feel comfortable if I’m not wearing by seatbelt. It has nothing to do with laws or fines; I just became comfortable with the seatbelt because my child shamed me into trying it. Call me naïve, but I believe most parents wouldn’t throw stuff out of their car if their children told them not to do it.

There have been a lot of successful campaigns out there. Iron Eyes Cody did the Keep America Beautiful commercials. I don’t see those reminders any more. Hooty The Owl was a little hokey, but he got the message out there.

Cleaning up roadsides is a huge effort and I appreciate and admire the folks that do it, but it sure looks to me like bailing against the tide.

Every morning I drive down Ash Point Drive and see the litter on the side of the road and every day, that lady walks her dog and picks it all up. She’s only one person and can’t possibly stay ahead of it, and she shouldn’t have to. You are free to live like a pig in your world, but there’s no need to treat our world that way.

Just a very, very little effort on everyone’s part can make a huge difference.


Bill PackardBill Packard lives in Union and is the founder of BPackard.com. He is a speaker, author, small business coach and consultant.

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