By Edith Morgan
It seems that every year, at this time, as the snow melts and recedes, it leaves behind a whole moraine of litter in Worcester, that succeeding layers had hidden from us until now.
That is why in April every year, around the dedicated Earth Day celebrations we have held a city-wide clean up, with hundreds of volunteers and truck loads of trash hauled away by the DPW. Of course, in the past year, the virus prevented the yearly pick-up, and so I expected a lot more litter on our streets and parks.
The Regional Environmental Council just sent out its yearly request for coordinators and volunteers for this year’s clean up.
So, for at least a few days, our city will sparkle in the springtime sun. But the slobs will not long be deterred.
As restaurants and fast-food purveyors re-open, the litterers will be busy. And it is not just the snackers, but also the shoppers, the smokers and their butts, and the thirsty, with their “nips” and full-sized bottles who will immediately seek to fill every available space on our sidewalks and gutters with their debris.
We have managed to reduce the plastic bags from our grocery stores, but it seems that packaging is now double and triple what it used to be. When I unpack my purchases, I fill a bag of recycles with the wrappings. None of that would be a problem, if we all trimmed our trees and bushes regularly so they do not hang out onto sidewalks and do not harbor all sorts of debris every time there is a wind.
We do have a weekly, very efficient trash and recyclables pick up. Twice a year the leaves are swept from our streets. Our local property taxes pay for that. And so far no one has suggested we pay to hire more workers and buy more trucks.
So what do we do? When I visited Montreal many years ago they swept their streets every day. Most large cities in most nations are very clean; some even have flushing outlets in their sidewalks that rinse them off regularly. There are many different solutions, but the basic one is that residents take pride in the appearance of their cities and do not feel they have the right to use public spaces as their personal trash cans.
We can turn this around – at least in the coming generation! It begins in Kindergarten class and must be practiced throughout our 12 years of schooling. It does not take extra staff or extra equipment to pick up our rooms, our playgrounds, or the spaces we use. And it takes no time away from instructional time. It is simply a matter of values.
We in Worcester have so many new and beautiful buildings, so many improvements to our city parks, so much landscaping to beautify even our parking lots. So, if we ALL make it our task to pick up – maybe carry a little litter bag, like the owners of dogs do! – we can begin to make a dent in this problem, until the next generation just naturally, as a matter of habit, picks up any trash they see.
Lilac says: Don’t feed the geese at Elm Park and, dog owners: bring a poop bag! pic: Rose T.