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Refuse Abuse of Refuse, or A Modest Proposal to End Litter

Littering: what bullshit. Who does this? What rational being, upon finding unwanted items in his hands, decides to drop them on the ground, or throw them out a window, or leave them on a public table? What sequence of thoughts leads one to the conclusion that this is at all okay, even once?

  • “I don’t want to dirty up my car.” Then live your life in such a way that prevents you from accessing dirty items in the first place. Don’t want cigarette butts in your car? I don’t want them in my sight, and I don’t want my kids seeing them. Try again.
  • “Someone else will pick it up.” Your Highness, I have the worst news for you: you are not royalty. You don’t have servants. Remember your roots. And if your roots include role models who littered, you and your family are human garbage. It’s time someone let you know.
  • “Sometimes I have no choice.” Seriously, did you just try to justify littering as the only option? I hate you. You need to kill yourself.

Actually, this is too much credit. My guess is that there’s no thought at all, just a case of classic disregard for anything not directly affecting them at that moment, or out of sight, out of mind. But it’s not out of sight, is it? Litter is pervasive. There’s no archvillain, The Trashman or The Ripe Stinker or Moldy Poldy, gaily tossing refuse about in an affront to nature’s beauty and the dignity of modern humans. There’s only modern humans. We no longer use leeches medicinally or burn witches or bind the feet of young women. Why do some of us litter?

Nay—why do some of you litter? I cannot include myself in your genetics. Serial killers, bad dancers,  fans of Extreme Makeover, and those with chronic halitosis, sure, I accept my fate with you as fellow humans. But litterbugs? Adjoined chromosomally with stink beetles at best.

For anyone with me (i.e., for those of you who walk upright, qualify for mammal status, and have the slightest semblance of a soul), a few suggestions. First, let’s retract the term “litterbug” from the lexicon. Is there a more unassuming criminal label that this? If I didn’t know the meaning, I’d probably want to hang out with a litterbug—seems like he may give me free cigars and break out into jubilant dance at any moment. For alternate terms, I offer up junkers, smellies, tossers, or (thank you Monty Python) miserable fat littering bastards.

Second, let’s bring back the Crying Indian (sic). Everyone remembers Iron Eyes Cody, shedding a tear for the bag of trash thrown at his feet after canoeing by a nuclear power plant for some reason. Not until the classic 1980s “I learned from watching you” drug ad did television capture so much of our consciousness. Mr. Cody, your work is not done. On a recent walk I came across five pieces of gum, some tissues, a Funyuns bag, two condoms, three beer cans, and a shirt. A shirt! We need you, sir.


"I can't believe I just stepped in a discarded diaper."

Third, let’s put some resources into this. Make me Rubbish Czar, give me 1/100th the budget from the War on Drugs and 1/1,000,000,000,000th the budget from the War on War, and watch me make a difference. The warning signs along a highway and the “Put Litter in Its Place” text on McDonald’s cups aren’t cutting it (in fact, the latter warning always bothered me–isn’t litter’s place on the ground?). I need some highway cameras, some automated spy drones, several fighter jets on loan from the War on War, and some inmate work details—not to pick up trash, but to beat the crap out of any offenders. My Work for Release program will yield incredible results, I’m sure of it.

Finally, let’s update the law. One-third of those in jail are drug users. One-third!  (Incidentally, I’ll be selecting from the other two-thirds for my prison whoop-ass program—I want real criminals to help me, not kids who made bad decisions or pathetic addicts). Actually, that was just editorializing on my part, as my law suggestions have nothing to do with jail time. Instead:

  • First offense, castration. What do you mean, too harsh? The punishment must fit the crime. Littering must be the most unnecessary crime. So, let unnecessary punishment go with it. Deterrence works if it’s smartly applied. Who would risk this? Rock me, Hammurabi!
  • Second offense (if you’re a woman or fine being a eunuch), your home becomes the town dump. For a month, all the garbage trucks eschew their usual route and leave the city’s trash on your lawn. Your family and neighbors will hate you, as they should.
  • Third offense, I can’t say. I mean, I have ideas, but my parents read my posts, so I don’t want to horrify them too badly with my demented suggestions.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to the third strike.
“As your Rubbish Czar, I will stop at nothing to clean up our community.”

But I can’t do this alone. So please, hear me as I call upon all patriots to call your Congressmen, Congresswomen, and CongressUndecidedOnGender and insist upon these changes. Leave your teabagging and your Obamism aside for a day and fight for something that really matters: your right to go for a walk without stepping in something schlocky.

17 responses to “Refuse Abuse of Refuse, or A Modest Proposal to End Litter”

  1. Owen Owen says:

    I’m voting Leary for Rubbish Czar! The garbage man can!
    I also hate litterers. They have no souls.

    • Jason Jason says:

      Thank you for your support, Owen! Given your militant views, I may enlist you to head up my Stasi-style monitoring group.

  2. emmy em emmy em says:

    Ugh. The gum. If nothing else, swallow it for goodness sake!
    This is exactly how I feel about spitting. Can't stand it. And people ask….so what's so bad about spitting? Well, let me tell you. First, it's effing disgusting and makes you look like trash. Second, the reason that people told you not to spit is because it spreads tuberculosis. No, this disease isn't as massive of a problem as it used to be. Because there were ad campaigns against spitting. And through the public not spitting, the disease was more contained.

  3. Avatar Karen says:

    Way to go, Jason. I thoroughly agree–the stuff left on the buses and trains in Chicago is astounding–I have to keep reminding myself I'm not the mother of these slobs because I want to start cleaning it up. That's probably how a lot of these slobs got started–they had compulsive mothers who cleaned up after them.

    • Jason Jason says:

      Thanks, Mrs. Y! I can say that the Boston bus garbage scene isn't quite that bad, but Lord it's not good. You can't even say they were born in a barnyard, since most barnyards I've seen are litter free.

    • Jason Jason says:

      Thanks, Mrs. Y! I can say that the Boston bus garbage scene isn't quite that bad, but Lord it's not good. You can't even say they were born in a barnyard, since most barnyards I've seen are litter free.

  4. Jason Jason says:

    The public spitting phenomenon mystifies me as well. Just right there on the sidewalk as you walk past–really? At least they give that hocking noise to let you know it's about to happen. Thanks for reading, Em.

  5. I totally agree. I am the same way, it feels as morally wrong as not returning the $ when a cashier gives me too much change. My main exception has been cigarette butts. When I smoke on break @ work, i am always put my butt in the provided ashtray, in part because i know it's Mario (bldg employee I know) who has to clean all the ones dropped on the sidewalk. I am however 'that guy' who disposes of cigarettes out the car window, because even IF you can find a post 2001 vehicle that COMES with an ash tray, I have always found it gross to use it (much better for change) but as a result of this article i have ordered (free) these:http://tinyurl.com/pocketashtray after checking out this site:http://tinyurl.com/CigLitter
    Consider me a fully compliant convert!

  6. Avatar llxt says:

    Jason–there may be a direct correlation between the definition of refuse (the verb) and the reasons people litter their refuse (noun). Language is powerful! Your campaign needs to begin by giving a new Name to this problem. Something that makes people care… maybe i-trash? or "your firstborn litterbaby"??

    • Jason Jason says:

      iTrash! I love it. Though if we're not careful we'll end up encouraging people to litter. Maybe iKillYouIfiSeeYouLitter? Oh geez, again with the violence. Thanks for reading, Ms. T.

  7. Avatar Papa Mike says:

    Jason,you have put into words every visceral feeling I have for the vermin who mindlessly desecrate our communities.I want to be able to take my grandson for a walk without fear for his safety.

  8. Jason Jason says:

    It must be in our genes, Dad. I think your commitment to picking up trash in your neighborhood should encourage those around you to do their part and shame those who litter into stopping their lousy habit. Here's to a future where Charlie can walk barefoot in public with his papa. Thanks for reading!

  9. Avatar The Tailor says:

    Jason, you've given voice to every litter related complaint I've ever had. There's no problem with "iKillYouifISeeYouLitter," villence may be required to solve this problem. I can't get te image of littering supervillsins out of my head now.

  10. […] just dump it out the window when I am at a stop sign or traffic light (does this fall under Jason’s campaign against littering?), because once I got the filled pee bottle confused with actual Iced Tea I was drinking, and damn […]

  11. Avatar Patohfer says:

    Thanks for the post Jason!!
    “As your Rubbish Czar, I will stop at nothing to clean up our community.”

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