The Ignorance Behind Littering
Updated: Nov 24, 2022
I’ve always been bothered by people who throw their trash anywhere but in a trash can, but it was only recently that I fully understood the extent to which littering is prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Last semester, I decided to spend a day taking mental notes of how much trash I saw around me, whether while sitting in the car, scarfing down a sandwich in the school cafeteria, or even walking down my neighborhood’s sidewalk. In doing so, I truly opened my eyes to the sheer ignorance that drives so many people to toss their plastic water bottles in the grass or their candy wrappers in the streets. And let me tell you, there is a lot of ignorance (and laziness!) to be passed around.
Today, I thought I’d keep things short and sweet with a poem that reflects everything that I witnessed. So what are you waiting for? Scroll on to read my observations on littering — and on why we do it far too often.
We’ve all heard of littering, in school or at work,
And the damage that it can endlessly impose.
So wanting to assess just how much greed we possess,
I zoomed in on the world beneath my toes.
As I drove to school, gazing aimlessly into the mist,
I saw a man in a Chevy toss out his cigar.
Into the grass it went, and whether or not it was the man’s intent,
He had scarred the earth from inside his own car.
Why couldn’t the man have held onto his tube?
After all, it was smaller than even a pen.
But he didn’t give a hoot if all his cigar did was pollute,
Because his hand was free for another smoke again.
Alas! At school I arrived, and across the parking lot I walked,
And the scene confirmed my greatest fears.
From dirty napkins and sheets, to even an old pair of cleats,
The trash appeared to have been there for years.
Why did our school resemble a slowly growing dump,
Where with every step I would see something gross?
Though I never tossed trash on the lot, for my peers it took no second thought,
Why find a trash can when the ground was so close?
When the bell signaled for lunch, I looked up once from my crunch,
And my eyes widened at what I saw.
Wrappers scattered across tiles, and Ziploc bags forming in piles,
I even saw an occasional stray straw.
Why couldn’t the students hold on to their trash,
Rather than leave it lying for janitors to collect?
By choosing “I” over “we” (to which I don’t agree),
They were showing nothing but sheer disrespect.
Finally, I trudged home, and for a stroll I went,
To clear my head of the thoughts in my mind.
But as I saw bags choking trees and bottles neglected in threes,
My confidence in my own community was undermined.
Why didn’t my neighbors, friends and foes,
Dump their trash in the bins that each house contains?
The bins are right there, and of this my neighbors are well aware,
Yet littering on others’ lawns is how it remains.
So sure, we’ve all heard of the dangers of littering,
But few of us appear to push for reform.
Perhaps by picking up after our messes we can relieve some of nature’s stresses,
That unfortunately have become the norm.
The next time you are about to toss out your cigar,
Ask yourself what your actions could entail,
For it’s not just bunnies and bugs who’ll be harmed by your shrugs,
So don’t let your ignorance prevail.