Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Unattended Trash Cans Cause Litter

Comment to the Josephine County Commissioners, 11-28-12. 

Honorable Commissioners:
          A few weeks ago, Carl Wilson of KAJO radio gave me a puzzle:  The New York City subway system hauls about 14,000 tons of garbage out of the subway system every year.  They did an experiment and removed all trash cans from two platforms.  They stayed much cleaner.  They will be removing cans from 8 more platforms this year.
          I thought about that for two days before I figured out why.  It is because the trash cans are unattended, and people are careless.  They don’t always make sure that the litter they throw at the can gets in it.
A trash can in Baker Park by the boat landing.  Ironically, it is one of the cleaner places in that park.
          One of the iron rules of littering is that one piece of litter on the ground, no matter how small, gives people subconscious permission to drop more.  Any trash anywhere, even in the can, gives permission to leave trash in that place.  If the can is full, that’s even more permission, and one feels righteously angry at the owner of the can as one adds one’s trash consciously to the pile around it.
          The trash can in front of the courthouse is a case in point.  I requested it several years ago because of the trash that gathered on the steps.  It still gathers there; the can makes no difference.  Some people sit on the steps, eating, drinking, and smoking, and leave litter anyways.  The can merely makes it more convenient to pick it up and throw it away, but few people are willing to do that, and we who do tend to come equipped with bags because we don’t expect nearby trash cans.  If I happen to be without a bag and pick some litter up, I carry it until I find a can indoors, if necessary. 
          If people don’t find a trash can as they are walking downtown eating or drinking, some will drop litter, but most will carry it, to their car or house, if necessary.  The few who habitually drop it will do so regardless.  But those who are careless about putting it in cans will have no opportunity for such carelessness.
          Please remove the can in front of the Anne Basker, and the ones by the doors of the courthouse.  People going in the courthouse can find a can inside; cans by the door are not convenient for anyone else.  It may be that the trash gathers around the stone tables outside because of the presence of that can, inconveniently out of reach, but giving permission to leave trash.  It is unlikely that putting the can near the tables will get the kind of people who leave trash lying around to use it.  So get rid of it, and all other such unattended outdoor cans, and save the county some money.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener         541-955-9040

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