Why Littering Is OK

We’ve all grown up in a society that says littering is NOT okay.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on advertising campaigns, school programs, animated “messages” secretly added into Saturday morning cartoons, print ads, jingles, and a slew of other mainstream media opportunities. Local law enforcement will often (although not as often as you’d think) give people tickets for throwing stuff out their car window or missing trash cans altogether. And yet, what no one is telling any of us — what no one is owning up to, is the fact that littering is not as bad as they say.

In fact, I’m going to tell you why littering is OK.

Now before you lump me into the category of “scientists who don’t believe there’s such a thing as global warming being caused by humans” and before you rally against my “littering ways” — I’d like you know that I’m all for keeping this planet pretty. Sure, if we all did our part it would (probably) make a difference. But before there were wastebaskets and before society got all crazy on us for throwing trash away, there was a little thing called wind.

That’s right — wind.

In the olden times, before a trash can could be found on every corner, or before people traveled with mini-garbage trays in their modes of transportation and before the ancient cavemen had fanny packs — what did people do with garbage? That’s right, they’re threw garbage on the ground. And there wasn’t any rebel cavemen in orange jumpsuits being forced to pick up said garbage. Around the ancient tundra there was garbage littering — from old bones and half-eaten food carcasses to wood and stone and a cave-full of crap.

And yet, the planet seemed just fine.

That’s because the environment and the weather patterns did their part in taking said pieces of garbage and blowing them away. Into the oceans, into chasms, into places where they would disappear forever — thus leaving the landscape fairly clean in the end.

Today, things aren’t much different.

Sure, we’re making plastics and some non bio-degradable items, but the majority of littering consists of food, dirt, wood and skin particles — and do you know what happens when you leave that stuff on the ground (or throw it out your car window while doing 80 on the freeway)?

The wind makes it disappear.

Society doesn’t need orange-jumpsuited felons to get rid of the garbage. The people of the world don’t need rules and laws and punishment related to littering to keep the planet clean. Civilization needs to rely on what was here before the rules and just let this planet clean itself up, on it’s own. Maybe the fact that this planet is so screwed up is because we’re trying TOO hard to clean this planet up. What would happen if we just threw caution (and garbage) to the wind, and let Mother Earth take care of it the way she saw fit?

Tsunamis, earthquakes and Armageddon would probably get rid of a lot of garbage, too.

That’s why I say — let the Earth take care of it while you throw crap out the window of your Suburban on the 405. In the end, things will probably be better off because of it.

18 comments on “Why Littering Is OK

  1. Jerry - May 1, 2007 at 9:27 am -

    I submit that Chicago is the most beautiful windswept city I have ever seen. Wind power is an alternative we have only begun to tap into. Paul, you are as always avant garde with societal solutions.

  2. Wordmaven - May 1, 2007 at 12:25 pm -

    Pro-littering? I’m not surprised since it came from the guy who hates trees, washcloths and pomegranate juice.

  3. Pauly D - May 1, 2007 at 3:46 pm -

    Jerry – Thanks for the compliment. I do try to be ahead of the game a little bit.

    Wordmaven – You’re just jealous. You wish you had attacked POM juice a year ago.

  4. Wordmaven - May 1, 2007 at 5:23 pm -

    Nope, big fan of all things pomegranate. It’s just sad to find out you’re a hater, not a lover.

  5. Stephanie P. - May 1, 2007 at 5:30 pm -

    Just try to imagine a world in which we would have to dodge flying refuse just to get to our cars, jobs and homes. It would be like New York everywhere you went! Who wants that?!
    Now that I think about it though, I do like the idea of throwing my unwanted belongings out of the windows of my house. Just think of the vagrants I could meet! Now THAT’S a great way to make new and interesting friends!

  6. Stephanie K. - May 2, 2007 at 12:45 pm -

    When cavemen were around, everything was organic, biodegratebal. Yeah throwing food, dirt, and wood on the ground is fine. But what about plastics and cans? Interesting point though, about what the world would be like with everyone littering.

  7. Alma - May 2, 2007 at 3:10 pm -

    Where exactly is away?

    The wind blows trash away? No, the wind blows trash to fences, to walls, to areas where it becomes trapped. In my neighbourhood, after trash day, the fence in my yard has collected a tonne of trash….and it doesn’t blow away. It sits there. Even newspaper, which is fairly degradable, sits there, for months (yeah, I’ve let it sit there).

    Littering, like dumping chemicals, takes your trash and makes it someone elses problem. Thanks a lot!

    The thing about putting trash where it belongs (composting, recycling, dumps) is that it is fairly efficient (revitalizing soil, reusing materials, etc.) and it also ensures we face a more direct cost for our consumption/packaging choices.

    If we don’t face this cost, we run into something akin to a tragedy of the commons. Of course, there are alternative ways to impose that cost…

  8. cinekat - May 2, 2007 at 10:39 pm -

    But then again, let’s not forget the sheer unbridled joy that comes with hurling random unwanted objects out the window. And who really wants further joylessness in modern life?

  9. Smithy - May 3, 2007 at 11:08 am -

    This has to be one of the most ignorant things I’ve read on the entire internet. So we should allow the wind to blow things “away” and that’s good enough? How naive are you?

  10. Jay - May 4, 2007 at 3:07 am -

    How can you say the world hasn’t changed from “cavemen” to how society is now? For one thing, how big is the population now compared to back then? And we aren’t spread across the world. We have 18 million people living in shanghai alone, average of maybe 3-8 million in developed cities? (not fact, just an estimate) We’re all crammed into cities. different story if we all live on farms with 50 acres of land, but I believe you are talking about urban society, not rural.

    The garbage materials aren’t just food, dirt, wood, and skin, how wonderful it would be if that was all the garbage there is. It might have been like that with the “cavemen” but we live in a world with mass produced products that are not biodegradable such as beer bottles, plastic bottles, plastic wrap, even some type of paper are very hard to decompose. It would take many years for it to fully decompose. And even if garbage was biodegradable like food, do you want to walk around a city that smells like your compost heep with maggots, insects, and birds everywhere?

    We do need to stop littering. Not only does it make cities look dirty, its dangerous for kids. For example, they might be playing on the grass and fall on sharp pieces of glass from someone throwing a beer bottle on the ground. We live in a fast pace society, and recycling/garbage is the answer our fast pace output of waste.

  11. Wayne - May 4, 2007 at 5:29 am -

    Don’t compare our society now with the primitive society they had thousands of years ago. We dont’ live in caves right now, there are houses, human made obstacles blocking mother nature from using wind power to blow garabge out into space *sarcasm*. You’ve obviously never been to the parts of town where they toss garbage all over the streets with no one to pick it up. I really don’t see wind power blowing away the old computer tower into the ocean. Maybe you shoudl give us your address and we’ll dump all our garbage on your lawn while you wait for the wind to blow it away.

  12. Pauly D - May 4, 2007 at 6:54 am -

    I think some people have misconstrued my point.

    I’m not saying everyone should litter — I’m just saying littering is not as evil as the corporate press makes it out to be. And as for wind? I’m not saying wind would make garbage disappear. No, not in the least. I’m just saying that wind will “collect” non-biodegradable garbage into garbage-y areas, that were litter-filled anyway. If a town is known as garbage town anyway, what’s the big deal if it gets even more garbage-y?

    Hope that clarifies things.

  13. Kevin S. - May 4, 2007 at 7:47 pm -

    There are already places in the world doing very much as you propose. China, where I live, comes to mind.

  14. Thomas - May 5, 2007 at 5:25 pm -

    I don’t want to burst anyone’s atmosphere here, but being pro-littering is absolutely pointless. Sure, you’re different, but you’re incredibly illogical. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy driving down my street, which happens to run through a primarily residential community, and never see trash not occupy a spot on the ground for more than ten feet at a time. McDonald’s paper bags, Pepsi bottles, cigarette cartridges, among other random, careless littering. Deliberately polluting your own biosphere is basically equivalent to saying, “I don’t give a damn about anyone else or thing, as long as it doesn’t directly relate to me.” Oh, and, “I don’t really care what the environment around me looks like. Bring on the smog.” So, I hear you hate trees. Well, interesting. I love them. I don’t understand you, I’m afraid. I’m no big environmentalist or petitioner–it’s just minor, personal opinion. But, it’s very interesting to hear that you actually promote the defilement of your own surroundings.

    By the way, I currently work at a recycling facility. If you could see the amount of just number 1 and number 2 recyclables that come through that place in a single day from a single district outside of city limits, I just couldn’t imagine you not being appalled. Because it IS appalling.

  15. ellie - March 13, 2008 at 6:19 pm -

    you stupid people!!!!!!! I hope you guys go to the underworld!!!!!!your hurting animals!!!! you animal haters!!!!!! death to all animal haters!!!!!! you guys are EVIL!!!!!! animal haters! haters! haters!

  16. ellie - March 13, 2008 at 6:21 pm -

    I’m very sorry for my sister for doing that. But yet, she is right…YOU ANIMAL HATERS!!!!!

  17. Samir - April 2, 2008 at 1:20 am -

    Mother Nature! : The Greatest Garbage Man Person on Earth (phew! … was almost politically incorrect there for a moment). I like it.

    Nice article. And as always, humour, sarcasm and just plain thinking is not very popular when it comes to the issues, as is evident by some of the lynch mob above.

    I found this even more interesting because on of my readers recently put to me this question of where things go when you “throw them away”, and I responded by saying that the yellow rubber ducks now live down on the farm.

    A strange response, I know but somebody had to do it. And now I shall disappear with the wind …

  18. Words for our enjoyment. « Welcome to the 505 - April 14, 2008 at 9:09 am -

    […] a bit through the archives to see if I could find some more gems and I did, in the form of “Why Littering Is OK“. I’ll sum it up so you won’t have to facepalm yourself to death while reading the post: […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.