Every day on the train ride to work, I look out the window as we pass through north Philadelphia. It’s a rough part of town with neighborhoods in disrepair. And I notice that some of the sidewalks are nearly entirely covered in garbage. Not bags of garbage; individual pieces. Cigarette boxes, styrofoam coffee cups, fast food bags, etc.
The problem isn’t totally rampant though. It’s just a few streets. There seems to be a tipping point where people on that street decide it’s a lost cause and just stop trying. It almost looks like a virus that infects the neighborhood block by block. In some of the worst cases, the sidewalk littering seems to have spread into individual houses where garbage is now spilling out from the garage or from the windows. Hoarders perhaps.
Where I live, the streets are clean. But it requires effort. My house is across the street from a suburban outdoor basketball court. Teenagers park their cars in front of my house and spend a couple hours with their friends playing ball then head out. And a number of them throw their empty Gatorade bottles and McDonald’s bags in my yard or in the street. It’s baffling, to tell you the truth. But we pick it up and throw it out. I don’t want to just leave it there. It sucks. It really really sucks. But we clean it up and grumble about it, then get over it.
What I can’t imagine is simply leaving it there. Or even worse, contributing to it. This is our world. You are my neighbors. We’re all in this together, people.