Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Every Litter Bit Shows
Speech to Grants Pass City Council, 9/14/2011
The other day, I watched a City contractor’s employee using a litter-grabber to pick up litter in the covered sitting area next to the bathrooms near the tennis courts at the All-Sports Park. When he was done, I picked up at least a half-dozen cigarette butts from that area, and moved on to pick up the litter in the grass nearby. The next day, I observed a park employee supervising several such employees as they cleaned, and pointed out that they should be picking up all the litter, even the smallest pieces.
As I told her, the eye and the unconscious mind sees all, while the conscious sees only what it wants to see. Every litter bit gives the unconscious permission to throw more litter on the ground, and people do, without even thinking about it.
When I was on Community Service Work Crew, picking up litter along the freeway, our supervisor told me not to pick up the smallest bits of litter, so as to keep up with the rest of the group that was ignoring them. He probably figured that tiny pieces can’t be seen from moving traffic, but that is not so; one can see every glittering bit, and many that do not glitter, and they invite more litter.
While I was on Work Crew, no supervisor told me to pull weeds; I did it on my own where needed. But a month or so back, I observed Work Crew women working inside the gates of the Wastewater Treatment Plant, pulling weeds from around the roses. I asked their supervisor who had ordered them inside, where another outfit has the contract. He said that he did it on his own and has for years, since the other contractor doesn’t pull weeds.
So Community Service slaves have been subsidizing one of our private contractors for years by doing his work, and the city has been paying twice over to weed those roses. Meanwhile, weeds outside the fence got whacked to grow right back, and were simply ignored if they creep under the mower blades.
This is bad training for our least civic-minded citizens. Our Work Crew supervisors should be teaching their charges not only to pick up every litter bit, but to pull weeds as they begin to bloom instead of whacking them to grow right back. They should teach their work crews about our city codes regarding weeds and litter. These residents could then take these skills and knowledge home and keep their yards free of litter and weeds, knowing that there are codes that say that they have to.
Published at Yahoo Voices