So the last time we did a cleanup we actually cleaned the wrong road. Oh well, we are all better for it! This time we cleaned a 2 mile stretch of Rt. 34 between Gettysburg and Biglerville. The last route was almost entirely lined with fields or wooded areas. There was a tremendous amount of trash, mostly alcohol, plastic bottles, and food containers. This Sunday our route was mostly residential and businesses properties with a few open field or wooded lots scattered between them. There were still a ridiculous amount of cigarette butts everywhere, but the dichotomy between inhabited and open land was striking.
The amount of trash increased from inhabited to uninhabited properties by probably a factor of 10. It was amazing to see how concentrated the trash was in areas where there was no visible home or store. Beyond the usual food containers and bottles we found: a full car bumper and muffler, a broken wooden door, a shovel and handsaw, a huge wire cage, a laundry basket, some old signs…the list goes on. In front of inhabited properties there was very little litter, and what we found was mainly cigarettes.
So, the logical question I asked was: is the difference between litter on inhabited and uninhabited properties caused by maintenance, or is it caused by a littering behavior that distinguishes between property types? The fact that there was a significant amount of cigarette butts on inhabited properties hints that the lack of litter here is not because the owners are cleaning it up. In fact, cigarette butts are often not thought of as litter by the people who discard them. Perhaps then the cause is people distinguishing between the property types. My gut instinct tells me this distinction is probably the part, if not all, of the answer. Unfortunately, this would mean that people who litter not only disregard the social norm of keeping the roadways clean, but also clearly lack respect for nature.