Last night when I came home, there was a discarded sign thrown into my yard. It was a posterboard emphatically proclaiming, “THIS TREE IS NOT A TRASH CAN.”

Further investigation proved that the sign had been screwed into the tree that straddles the sidewalk in front of both my neighbor’s and my houses. It’s a rather wild tree, always needing pruning, its roots coming up through the sidewalk and into our yards in angry defiance of urbanity. Whatever treebox it may have once had is all hard root and broken brick now. There’s always trash discarded around it – usually the droppings of kids on their way home from school, candy wrappers and crumpled chip bags. Sometimes an empty 40 or two. When I get home I pick up the trash, all part of the routine.

Someone on my block is sick of it, so angry about the waste that they’ve taken the time to construct a sign and screw it into the tree trunk. But will it change the pschology of the people who litter?

I wish otherwise, but I think it more likely that the schoolkids will read that sign and throw more trash on the ground. They may even throw it into my yard, as someone threw the sign, associating my house with it as guilt by proximity. The man drinking 40’s will spit on the sign. Shame does not change behavior anymore. Everyone has an excuse.

Last week I was in the one of the most beautiful places on the face of the earth, Killarney National Park. I was sad (but not entirely shocked) to find litter even there, crumpled water bottles mostly, some beer, which I picked up and threw away properly. It broke my heart that someone could see so much beauty and then casually toss their trash.

The litterers on my block do not see beauty in our neighborhood. And now I will see this sign every day for as long as it stays up, another ugly reminder of that fact.

3 Comments so far

  1. Ex-Hy Hy (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 11:33 am

    People are trash. Easy as that.

    Ride the Red Line southbound; right before you reach the Rhode Island Ave. stop, look down and towards the treeline (the track is elevated). The amount of refuse and other human detritus piled up there is astounding.

  2. TreeWishes (unregistered) on June 5th, 2007 @ 9:36 pm

    I have to ask if there’s a trash can nearby. Perhaps it would be something for the city or the neighborhood to consider?

    And I can only encourage you to think about getting involved with the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative. Their goal is to figure out how to stop trash generation at the source and keep it from finding a way into the watershed.
    June 14 — Trash Summit at the World Bank

  3. Jenn L (unregistered) on June 7th, 2007 @ 12:02 pm

    The sign is gone now. It only lasted two days…

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