A few days ago, I was looking out my back window at the trash that has accumulated along the fence row along my back yard.
Each winter, when colder days put an end to lawn work and I stay holed up by the heater like any normal red-blooded critter, a few discarded pieces of trash collect along fence row. There is an empty dog food bag, a couple of Walmart shopping bags, things of that nature; items that have escaped the trash cans on collection day, things that dogs have carried into the yard, etc.
Some of the trash is mine. Some is my neighbor’s. Her home is to the south of mine. We live in the middle of open pastures, with few trees to block the winds. The predominant southerly winds blow everything from leaves to escaping grocery bags into my yard. The wire fence at the end of the yard stops their travel, collecting the garbage until I conduct my annual spring pickup when the first warm days of March roll around.
The spring pickup means picking up my stray grocery bags and other assorted garbage, and also picking up my neighbor’s. It would be easy enough to say, “Hey, her trash, her responsibility.” Except that the trash is in my yard. And if I don’t pick it up, it reflects poorly on me.
The same is true on a larger scale with trash along Scott County’s roadways. The sad truth is that our roads here are filthy. The sadder truth is that while we may not have a patent on roadside litter, we seem to have more of it than neighboring communities in Fentress and Campbell counties.
And the reality is that the issue will only be corrected if we take it upon ourselves to correct it. Like just about any problem facing any community, this one will only be corrected by rolling up our sleeves and going to work.
Some people don’t like the idea of picking up others’ trash. “Not my problem,” they say.
But it is. It’s a problem that belongs to all of us. Just as the trash along my fence row is a poor reflection on me if I don’t pick it up, because it’s in my yard, the trash along our roadways is a poor reflection on all of us as Scott County citizens.
These are, after all, our roadways.
As our story delving into this issue (page B1) states, it is an issue that reflects poorly on us in the eyes of tourists and — perhaps more importantly — in the eyes of prospective employers.
The question is, what are we willing to do about it? Are we content to gripe about it? Or will we roll up our sleeves and set about the task of putting a stop to it?
There is no way to put it any more bluntly: it’s time for us to clean up our act.
■ Ben Garrett is Independent Herald editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.