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From the editor: If you litter, we're tired of your trash

  • Travis DeNeal

    Travis DeNeal

By Travis DeNeal
Harrisburg Register editor
updated: 2/26/2020 1:18 PM

Contrary to popular belief, one person's trash pretty much is just another person's trash, too.

And no, we're not talking the Antiques Roadshow kind of garbage that turns out to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Unfortunately, a lot of trash seems to be where it shouldn't, namely all over the place. It is appalling to see just how much litter is scattered across southern Illinois. Pick any windy day in the region, and you'll see plastic bags capriciously dodging to and fro across nearly any parking lot. Candy bar wrappers flutter in the breeze, and bits of paper great and small congregate along roadsides.

What I don't understand is how we've gotten to the point where we don't mind trashing up our surroundings.

I think it goes beyond simple laziness. It's apathy. Some of us just don't seem to care.

For some reason, we've gotten to the point as a society where we don't want to make the smallest of efforts to keep our surroundings looking nice.

Rampant littering has real-world consequences, too. It can drive down property values, sure, but it also can cause other problems for us and our neighbors. In Harrisburg, a town with some low-lying areas, flooding has worsened simply because of trash. The city has two large pumps that can pump great volumes of water outside the levee that runs north to east. It can't pump water when it's clogged with litter, though.

A couple of years ago, the efficiency of the pumps was compromised by huge amounts of trash, causing worse flooding. A year or two ago, following that experience, the city worked to clean as much trash as it could from the waterways near the pumps in anticipation of heavy spring rains. The plan worked, and flooding was kept to a minimum. However, the city had decent weather ahead of the rains to allow for trash removal and several days of weather alerts about the rain system moving across the country.

What I'm saying is, we can't always expect someone else to pick up our trash, and we shouldn't.

We should have the decency as humans to put litter where it belongs, and not think of it as someone else's problem.

Someone else's problem, ultimately, is our problem. Let's face it responsibly.