Any season is a good season to pick up trash.
Nevertheless, late autumn/early winter is an especially ripe time to go hunting for unsuspecting pieces of plastic, wrappers, and other debris which became nestled under trees, bushes and various plant life during the warmer months.
The reason is that with nature preparing itself for the coming winter much of the vegetation around us withdraws and trash often stands out more than ever. This is especially true along highways, train tracks, street gutters and curbs, the edges of woods, and near exits.
How does waste get stuck in some of these places? There are a number of possibilities:
- By chance: Have you ever been driving with the window down and a plastic bag or piece of paper accidentally flies out the car but you’re going too fast to make an immediate stop and retrieve it? This can also happen with flatbed trucks where a load wasn’t tied down well enough. With other vehicles passing these items eventually get pushed off the road and stuck in the brush where it sits for a very long time.
- Intentionally: Even when people aren’t interested in recycling most are willing to use a wastebasket. Unfortunately sometimes when a garbage can is hard to find trash gets left around out of laziness. On highways this may occur when people pull over to rearrange, switch drivers, or simply take a break.
- Accidents: How many times have you passed an intersection and noticed bits of glass from a smashed window, pieces of metal, or cracked plastic on the ground? When accidents occur between vehicles crews and law enforcement officials are more focused on giving medical attention and directing traffic. In the end some debris periodically gets left behind.
- Naturally: It’s only natural that in highly populated residential and industrial areas more trash accumulates. At the same time it doesn’t have to be a stain on an entire region. Such circumstances require better approaches to waste removal and educating about environmental awareness in order to produce a noticeable change in behavior.
Now some people may think a plastic bottle or disposed paint can left on the side of the road back in July isn’t going to hurt anyone but this is far from the truth.
For example consider the fact that many materials we use are not biodegradable and can sit in the ground for hundreds of years before breaking down. Furthermore, containers that hold noxious substances and chemicals are even more dangerous as those compositions can drip down into local aquifers or streams contaminating drinking water and affect wildlife.
That said, when enough plastic bottles or paint cans roll into local habitats they have the potential to cause a lot of damage.
For this reason cities and towns or the counties they are located in should plan a day for residents to go out and clean up the nooks and crannies which are now more apparent along highways and roads.
In the event the winter comes a little early the next best time will be in the spring just after the last snow has melted.