Have you been driving recently in the Seattle area, enjoying the
beauty of the mountains, trees and water, only to have the scene interrupted by
piles of trash and litter? As I drive along the freeways, county roads and even
city streets, I notice an ever-increasing abundance of discards everywhere.
Where does it all come from? Who is responsible for picking it up?
Why is there so much litter around? Why does the problem seem to be
increasing all the time? Why does this trash and litter problem happen in the
I think the reasons as well as the solutions to this ever-mounting
problem are complex, but I feel sad that a beautiful state like Washington
doesn’t have a better handle on the problem. Other states seem to be doing a
better job of keeping ahead of the littering problem.
Is the problem a matter of priorities in how tax dollars are spent?
How much money is allocated to cleaning up freeways and highways? Is it a
lack of responsibility and pride in individual citizens? Is it a lack of
teaching and awareness in our children? Is it an overabundance of packaging
in most consumable goods that we purchase? Are there just too many
people crowded into the Seattle area?
I wonder how some states manage to have a cleaner environment.
Do businesses, schools and individual citizens “adopt” areas of highways,
and then faithfully keep them litter-free? Are inmates and those in need
community service hours expected to devote some time to trash and
litter pickup? Do city and state highway and street budgets allocate some of
their funding to cleanup?
It would be wonderful if the beauty of Washington state _ and
especially the Seattle area _ were not so heavily marred as it is now with trash and
litter. Perhaps each of us can do something in our own way to begin
the monumental task of “cleaning up” our state and making this area a
shining “emerald” once again.
Some suggestions for the beginning:
• Pick up a bag or two of litter in your neighborhood.
• Encourage your children’s scouting and church groups to do
some cleanup work.
• Ask elected officials what monies are allocated to trash and
• Take part in regional and local “cleanup” days.
• Pick up trash left behind at trailheads.
• Talk about littering with your children and teach by example.
• Don’t expect “government” to take care of the problem; become
part of the solution yourself.
We could solve this problem and make Washington state a place
of beauty once again if we cared enough. I think it’s worth the effort.