Letters to the Editor

Environmental: Small litter does damage too

A brief ray of sun reflected off the trail as I ran through the Kettles Park area. I paused to see what was sparkling. A piece of discarded foil wrapper from a Hammer Gel packet lay on the ground. I picked it up, put it in my pocket and continued running down the trail.

Spring is here. The number of people using the trails, parks, beaches and other public areas will increase with each passing day. Unfortunately the number of people who take care of these same trails, parks, beaches and other public areas does not increase with each passing day.

Most people still see no problem with dropping small pieces of foil wrapper, small pieces of plastic candy wrapper - small things don’t matter. They don’t think about the members of the animal community it can harm. They don’t think of how long it is harmful. A piece of foil will take several hundred years to decay to a point where it could be considered useful to the soil.

A plastic bottle dropped alongside the trail, on the beach or along the bikeway will still be there, or somewhere near, thousands of years from now.

The plastic bags with dog poop left along the way will still be there protecting their contents ten to fifteen years from now, but at least the owner was spared the inconvenience of carrying the bag back to a trash can or to the car.

My wife and I walk the beaches, run the trails and pedal along the roads - never without the accompanying ... what should we call it? Alphabetically, a not complete list of names for the wayside material could include:

castoffs, chaos, clutter, debris, disarray, discards, disorder, dregs, filth, garbage, hodgepodge, jumble, junk, leavings, litter, mess, mishmash, motley, collection, muss, odds and ends, offal, olla-podrida, refuse, rejects, remnants, residue, rubbish, rummage, scraps, shreds, sweepings, swill, tangle, tatters, trash, tumble, untidiness, waste, or worthless stuff, ... which, except for “olla-podrida,” evokes no call to our curiosity at all. There is a negative ring to each and every other word listed. Unfortunately, not a loud enough ring to prevent a person from tossing, flinging, dropping, discreetly discarding ... get the idea?

Whidbey Island is a beautiful place to live or to visit. Why not take some pride in being here and take your trash home with you when you visit the many beautiful nature attractions. It is a matter of pride. It is taking the time to behave in a manner which makes you proud of the place you are and how you leave it for the people behind you, whether those people are five minutes, five hours, five years or even 500 years behind you.

Whidbey Island must be taken care of by all who live here. Our environs are too small to think there is unlimited space and the littering problem is not critical. It is critical. Space and time are part of the critical common areas for all of us. We are each and all responsible for taking care of the commons, be they beaches, bikeways or trails in the parks.

John E. Morelock


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