What if I told you that yours does too?
If I told you that, under the cover of night, your city dumped tons of garbage directly into the river, would you believe me? Just because you haven’t seen the trash trucks backed up to the boat ramp, do you know for sure that it doesn’t happen?
It happened last night in my home town of Cedar Falls, Iowa. And in Waterloo, Iowa. And in thousands of other cities and towns all over the country. How could we not know? Let me tell you a story.
Our river here in Cedar Falls is the aptly named Cedar River. One of the main tributaries to the Cedar River here is Dry Run Creek, which is usually just a trickle. But on nights like last night, something special happens – it rains. Life giving, sustaining rain. The problem is, the major tributaries to Dry Run Creek are the majority of the storm drains in the city of Cedar Falls. So last night our blessing of rain took all the cigarette butts, beer bottles, diapers, and fast food wrappers from the streets, parking lots and yards around the area, neatly swept them down the storm drain, into Dry Run Creek, and out to the Cedar River. From there the Cedar ships it to the Iowa River, then down to the Mississippi River, and then ultimately out to the Gulf of Mexico.
Sharing the love.
So when you see your neighbor dump his McDonald’s package out the window once he finishes his breakfast, he can take pride in knowing that he has helped pollute thousands of miles of river bank in one easy step.
But is this really how it happens?
Before this week, I naively assumed that this water was somehow at least strained before it was sent on it’s way. It is not. While NONE of us would stand still at the possibility that our city was going to begin backing the trucks up to the river and dumping load after load into the water, as citizens that litter, we are doing exactly that. Every day.
So what do we do?
First and foremost, we have to prevent litter in the first place.
How do we do that?
By letting your friends, family, and strangers on the street alike see you picking up the trash that you see in your day to day walk, wherever that may take you. Research shows that people who see other people actively removing litter are less likely to litter themselves. If you would snap a picture of the litter before you pick it up, even better. Then you can take that photo and post it on our Facebook page, showing your friends that you are taking a stand on litter as well.
Social pressure can be a great weapon for change. Please join us in the fight.
p.s. Sweet picture of the truck above, right? Seamless combination of graphics, because I am just that good!