You Should Only Leave Footprints

By: Claire Tribble

One thing I’ll never understand is littering and dumping. Why? Why do you think it’s okay? Why do you think it’s someone else’s responsibility to clean up after you? Why not just wait until you get home and throw that takeout bag in the trash can? Why risk fines when you can take things to the transfer station for MINIMAL fees?

On Monday, the sun was shining, and cold days were coming, so my assistant Earl and I decided to strike out. I had seen the dump site over the Thanksgiving weekend, and I was livid. So we drove to the seemingly popular dump site at Piney Creek. This is a spot that is at the very busy intersection of HWY 251 and Holt Road. Right out in the open for everyone to see. It’s also the location that our dedicated volunteers James and Kathleen Cutting had cleaned maybe 2 months prior.

At first glance, we immediately saw a big box with clothes overflowing out of the top, a long box, a strewn about stack of vinyl siding, table pads for a dining room table, and some sort of white boards. When we got close to the stack, we could see there was a diaper cake most likely from a baby shower, and almost new clothes in the box. The table pads would have been in great condition had they not been rained on. These are things that plenty of other people would have loved to have, been proud to have. So again, I ask why?

Earl and I walked about 1/10 of a mile down Holt Road cleaning the trash out of the ditches. We filled SEVEN 35-gallon bags from that short walk. SEVEN! There were endless fast-food bags, empty cans and bottles, and cigarette packs. So I ask, is this what the inside of people’s homes look like? Their yards?

It’s not just that spot though. People do this everywhere. Just before Thanksgiving, we had an AMAZING Boy Scout Troop clean litter off of the Robert Martin Trail in Elkmont. This is a well-loved and traveled trail. Why would anyone trash it? I do not understand. Not at all.

While I can’t comprehend the train of thought that leads someone to litter or dump, I also can’t thank the wonderful volunteers enough that help us restore the area to a litter-free area!  It’s amazing how many people don’t care, and how many care enough to go behind them at the same time to pick up after them. The struggle is real.

By: Claire Tribble

Executive Director, Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful