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Op-Ed: Trash Talk

Resident Sandra Kurek talks back about trash

What is it with people these days?  The attitude is pervasive: “I don’t care”, “It doesn’t matter”, “Not my job”, or “I’m not picking up someone else’s trash”.  Why do people think enjoying picnicking in the park is a reason to just leave all their waste behind and what is acceptable about chucking trash or throwing cigarette butts out the car window? Walking down Mead Street after lunch can be disturbing as people park, eat in their car, and leave their debris at the curb. Kids enjoy twisting plastic bottles to make the lids pop off but let’s make sure the two pieces of trash are picked up and recycled.  We all need to take responsibility and teach each other to care and play a role.

Walking the town twice daily, I see a lot of trash and do my best to clean up but the littering it is out-of-hand.  As a dog owner, picking up after my dog is routine, often bringing a bag for trash, dumping in a trashcan and picking up more.  Our streets and park and recreation areas are disgraceful. 

We could blame corporate America for the disposable junk food, wrappers, portable plastic Gatorade, water, and every flavor drink bottles, the town for the loss of public water fountains, the worker’s (or mother nature) for spilling trash and recycling into the streets, the contracted park lawn service for chopping trash into hundreds of bits, Public Works for not emptying the trash cans often enough, or the Ice Cream truck vendor for not providing a trash can or offering to take the wrappers.  In the end, however, it is each one of us who need to take responsibility.  One could argue that there aren’t enough trash cans but I tend to disagree. Do we really need a trash can every 10 feet because it’s too far to walk (that’s another issue we could spend hours on)?  Have you ever heard the concepts “Leave No Trace”, “Carry-in Carry-out”, or “Leave the area better than you found it”?  Bring a bag and take your trash home!

Every adult, parent, kid, coach, counselor, employee (public or not) needs to have awareness and play a role.  I was talking to a baseball coach recently about the trash around Cameron Field and he said he had a hard enough time getting the boys to play their positions.  How does that relate to cleaning up before you leave the field?  No matter who you are - coach, counselor, adult, parent, child - take responsibility and regularly assign someone to the job of making sure the place is cleaned up.  If you use a babysitter or nanny, make them aware that this is important.  Often, a simple reminder to everyone is all that is needed.

Let’s take back our town and show pride in where we live.  Trash speaks volumes about who we are and what we believe.

Sandra Kurek, South Orange resident

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