Is the Litter Pluck enough?

It was a beautiful weekend, wasn’t it?
You didn’t happen to spend it out on the roads, did you? Perhaps with a bag and a pair of rubber gloves?
Or, at least, cleaning up your own yard?
Saturday was the county’s official Litter Pluck day, but after sitting down at the dining room table with a Bethel couple to discuss the garbage dumping problems in Sullivan County, I’ll be honest.
We need a lot more than a Litter Pluck day to straighten things out.
With the economy crumbling and costs for dumping our garbage climbing, there’s a scourge creeping across Sullivan County.
Illegal dumping.
They take their trash, and instead of carting it to the landfill or calling a private hauler, they throw it in the back of their vehicle and go for a ride.
Under the dark of night, they pull over, chuck the bag over the shoulder of the road, and make like a tree and leave.
It’s a victim-less crime, they say. The town or county workers will come pick it up, guys who get paid to drive the roads will take care of the mess.
Except, it doesn’t work that way.
Sure, there are a few places in the county where the heads of the highway make it a point to add litter control to the duties of their crews (check out the roads in the Town of Delaware – they’re spotless, and for good reason). But more often, it’s homeowners walking outside to find a big pile of trash in their backyard and heading back into the house to don gloves so they can get to work.
Take the Bethel couple, who asked not be identified because they don’t want more dumpers to make use of their property.
Four times since the snow melted, they’ve faced messes, each more disgusting than the last.
Bags of incontinence pads thrown in the creek, where they loaded with water, leaving just one bag so heavy a tractor had to be brought in to remove it.
Decaying meats, still in their plastic wrap, as though someone had emptied their freezer into a garbage bag, then emptied the bag onto their property.
And so it goes.
They pick up medical waste that is not their own and put it out with the garbage pick-up they pay for themselves. They collect freezer-burned food and hope that no animal will attack their garbage and force them once again to clean up someone else’s mess.
They are the victims.
And what’s to be done? There are social programs for people who’ve lost their jobs, for new mothers with limited incomes . . . Do we need to start a program for people who can’t afford to get rid of their trash?
Or do we all need to lend a hand? Get recycling. Get together with a neighbor to share the cost of curbside pick-up. Litter Pluck, whether it’s county sponsored or not. Clean our yards. Help clean other people’s yards.
And keep trash out of the creeks and off the roadside. Is the Litter Pluck enough?
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