Littering is peculiar

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.


  1. MacBros

    Perhaps the ones leaving the trash on your lawn are from the slums you see the sidewalks filled with trash?

    Either way, you’re right about wondering why in the first place. I think it’s just of kids with poor upbringing not having any respect these days. Some of these kids now turned into adults are a result of bad upbringing and now they’re raising kids the same way.

    That said, it will probably get worse before it gets any better.

    I was never that disrespectful in my youth. Because I knew if I was caught, my Dad would beat my ass. In the days spanking, and tough love and punishment wasn’t illegal. Blame government on that big ol nose sticking into parenting idea right there IMO.

    Put a Garbage can out front of your lawn.

    • JJ

      Thanks, fella!

      When I was a young lad, I did some stupid stuff. I’m sure I probably littered from time to time. It wasn’t until later that I built up a little self-awareness to realize that my actions affect others more than I might have thought.

      Here’s a story: in my 20’s, I smoked cigarettes for a while. Not a lot – a couple packs a week I guess. And when you smoke, the natural inclination is to simply flick your cigarette butt on the ground. Eventually there was a noticeable collection of spent butts in the parking lot of my apartment complex. An older gentlemen came up to me once and chided me for littering. I brushed it off. At the time, I thought he was unfairly worried about something that didn’t even matter. 10 years later, I feel differently. He was right.

  2. Ev

    Similar story! When we worked at Circuit City, I once complained about shopping carts in parking lots to Mark Clark. I told him it wasn’t my job to return shopping carts to the stupid shopping cart corral because…well because I was an entitled prick. Mark lambasted me and said “that kind of thinking is what is wrong with this country”. Since that day, I return shopping carts. Sometimes I gather up those sad lonely carts left by some other entitled prick and return those as well. I can’t say I am a better person for it, but it makes me feel better.

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