It isn’t easy to say exactly why people find littering so objectionable, but they do. Some of them, anyways. It’s possible it’s just a reaction to being confronted by the literally disposable nature of our society and consequently feeling ill at ease. The source of the discomfort isn’t the garbage, per se. It’s the fact that it isn’t in its place.
Others don’t seem to mind it at all and, because of this lack of concern, feel no misgivings at all about tossing whatever they no longer have a use for – be it the tail end of a cigarette, a fast food container, a can or bottle, a used diaper or an unneeded shoe – wherever they happen to be at the time, particularly in the winter, when snow will eventually come along and cover up the evidence of their disregard for nature’s beauty or our shared responsibility for maintaining public spaces.
On the bright side, this behaviour can be changed. Remember that blatant sexism and racism were once acceptable, along with less-serious but still irksome actions like indiscriminate spitting.
The bad news is that it hasn’t been yet and so, now that the snow has melted and reappeared and melted again for the last time – Mother Nature willing – Thompson faces an annual rite of spring less pleasurable than putting away the snow shovel and parka and winter boots: the annual garbage clean-up.
It isn’t a task to embrace with pleasure not only because of the ick factor, but also because, quite frankly, most of the people who feel like it’s their civic duty to pitch in and make their community look its best are precisely not the ones who made it a mess in the first place. But, as with so many tasks undertaken by responsible people who aren’t to blame for things being that way – parents of messy kids will identify with this – the choice between what is fair and what is right isn’t much of a choice at all and so, begrudgingly, community-minded folks step beyond the blame game, pull on their gloves and get to work making things right.
Luckily for them, the City of Thompson recognizes their efforts and, for the month of May, pays $3 a bag to anyone who picks up garbage in designated areas around town. And whether you donate that money to a worthy cause or spend it on candy or beer, depending upon your age and your tastes, the fact is, you earned it and you deserve it. You also deserve the thanks of all your fellow citizens, for sparing them the sight of so much litter as they go about their business. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. We can only hope that one day in the future littering becomes unacceptable and the clean-up is no longer necessary.