Thursday, April 22, 2010

A roadway honkathon for Earth Day (No Butts about it!)

Anyone who has traveled in a foreign country with busy streets knows that the car horn is really not used the same way as it is here in the United States. A crowded street in India might harbor the constant blaring of the horn and I’m told in other major international cities the horn is just a way to communicate with other drivers, good or bad.
So there’s a lot of honking going on around this world.
But here in the States, it seems that a single honk surprises all in earshot, jolts us and perks us up to single out who is the honker and the honkee, and what horrible, horrible thing person did because to earn a honk it must have been a pretty serious offense.
There’s not a lot of honking going on in my part of the world.
Americans admire the silent lure of the open road, preferably uninterrupted by the BEEP of another vehicle, and usually I subscribe to honk-free driving unless someone is in danger. I just don’t want to start any trouble out on the road, although I admit the mere odor of my kid-full car would probably be enough to scare anyone away.
But I have this dream that resurfaces at least once a year, that I would have the guts to not only start honking for myself, but a nationwide honkathon for a good cause: littering.
It’s no mistake that the Powers that Be put Earth Day smack in the height of Spring when we’re amazed daily by nature’s beauty. The flowers are popping up, the grass is no longer a dull shade of brown, and the birds are practically calling our pasty white selves to come out into the sunshine. For the first time in months, we can again walk on the good Earth without having to lace up boots and wrap our faces in snot-crusted scarves.
We walk outside, breathe warm air, and life is good…until we look down. And then we see that life is dirty.
A study conducted by our very own Ohio Department of Natural Resources found that over 11 thousand tons of litter accumulates on Ohio’s roads each year. Another study done in Texas estimates that 13% of roadway litter is cigarette butts. You can do the math yourself, but the point is that there is an exorbitant amount of these disgusting little used up pieces of trash covering our state.
Not only does it gross me out, but it makes me angry enough to honk every time I see someone flick a cigarette butt out their window. The glowing streak of light that is such a convenient ashtray for that driver is a lot less convenient for the rest of the world.
Here are some facts you might not know about the life of a cigarette butt:
Cigarette butts do not biodegrade. They are made of plastic, not paper and cotton, and can linger around for up to 25 years.
As lightweight as they are, the butts often end up in our storm drains and waterways where the toxins leech out and turn fishy-friendly water into a deadly cocktail. They can also end up in our own water supply systems. Yuck.
Here are some opinions you may not know about cigarette butts:
If you throw them or any other type of litter out of your car, I personally find you to be a lazy person, completely inconsiderate of those living around you. I’m not against smoking, per se, that’s a personal choice. But I am against walking down the street with my kids and having them ask me why there’s so much garbage on the road.
During this Earth Week, surrounded by recycling signs, not only am I going to do my part cleaning up the streets of my own town, but I’m also going to remind roadway litterers that the world is not a trash can by reinstating the honk. As far as I see it, a little noise pollution is the better way to go.

2 comments:

Thicket Dweller said...

Amen! Thanks for the info on the butts, too. It has always bugged me to see someone toss a butt out the window or onto the sidewalk, but I always figured I was just being anal; after all, they're biodegradeable, right? Now I know better. Honk on!

Koala Bear Writer said...

I agree with you! Garbage is disgusting, but especially cigarette butts. Maybe honking at those offenders is a good idea (if they know why we're honking at them...). :)

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