Gotta Run: One man’s trash, I don’t want it!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 6, 2022

What does trash have to do with a running and exercise column? I can tell you that there are several reasons why this is a good topic, and I think I will. Fortunate to own a small farm that takes lots of work, I am especially proud of the effort made to keep it looking good, and I’m quite fond of rural living.

As most of the readers know, I start nearly every day with a run that takes in some of the nearby country roads. Roads with well-kept yards and farm fields that are commonplace in the southwestern part of the county. Generally, the traffic is light and running is good, especially in the early morning. Somewhere around 6-6:30 a.m., I finish my run, usually in the same place, leaving me a couple hundred yards to walk home while covering my prayer list.

Lately, I have become quite concerned about the amount of trash that accumulates along the road and sometimes in the ditch. I’ve lived in the same place for 35 years and have always been concerned about trash, wondering why people toss out cans and small amounts of other trash. Recently, I took a more active approach, thinking that if I made a special effort in mowing that roadside and clearing the ditch and bank more often, then maybe less trash would end up in the area. It has a beautiful, usually shaded stand of mature pine trees with a few hardwoods mixed in. I think it might the prettiest portion along our road.

So, why the trash? Why here, and how much new trash is actually ending up on this piece of property? I mow the roadside now about once a week and spray the ditchbank so that it looks neat and nice. I started by picking up all the trash I could carry while doing my prayer walk. Yet, still every morning, I find new cans and sometimes fast-food papers.

One neighbor even suggested he knew a major culprit who works at Freightliner and uses this road daily, then tosses his afterwork beer can, purchased daily at Community Grocery in Cleveland.

Most of what I find are beer cans, of just 3-4 specific varieties, with a few soft drink cans mixed in. This week, I began saving the cans for a few days while I counted how much new trash was showing up. I also began to read some thoughts from others on why people litter. Some say it’s because they don’t care about Mother Nature, or much about themselves, while others think it’s because the drivers want their car clean. One thought is that the beer cans can’t still be in the car when arriving back home.

Taking care of your trash just seems so easy to me. We all have some sort of bags at home that would be perfect for saving trash in the car, then disposing in a proper place. One of the readily available benefits when buying gas is a large and unmonitored trash can right beside the pump. Use it!

I found various litter websites that claimed that men litter about four times more than women and that the 18-34 age has the highest percentage of those that admit they regularly litter. And that 75% of people admit that they littered in the past five years. One thing for sure is that littering is becoming more common.

Several facts strike me. After having cycled in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and a couple trips through Canada, I’ve seen litter up close. New Jersey is by far the worst state, but others aren’t far behind. Canada and most of our western states have very little litter, some say it’s because they have fewer people. I think the lack of litter in those areas has something to do with the quality of people and their pride in the surroundings.

One national litter website says that simply put, stupid people litter because of ignorance and laziness. Please don’t be one of these people!

Look for next Saturday’s Prediction Run 5K and other events at