Littering: The Most Ignorant Thing You Can Do!

littering.jpg For those of you who know me well (Hi, Mom!), you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is littering. I find the habit of throwing your refuse on the ground not only to be dirty, but also careless, irresponsible, and selfish. Every so often, I see something that really reminds me of how angry it makes me. Lately, there have been a few instances that I want to discuss. Am I being unfair?

– Today, I saw a woman who was carrying a magazine ignorantly leave her trash for someone else to clean. She was walking on the corner of Houston and Elizabeth Street (the corner where I live!). She was reading while walking (that is a whole other blog entry), and dropped a subscription card on the ground. She noticed it, and started walking back for it. Surely, I thought, she was going to go pick it up. Instead, she looked at it, and decided that she didn’t want it and kept walking. I sprung into action, and said “‘Scuse me, miss. You dropped something.” She had the gaul to say “oh, it’s OK. I don’t want it.” I said “no, it’s not OK. I live here, and I prefer you not litter on my block. You are literally 3 feet from a garbage can, can you throw it out please?” She rolled her eyes, and told me to mind my own business.” So, I bent down, picked it up, and put it in the garbage for her. I then mocked her by saying how difficult that was, and how I will sleep so well after that tough workout, proceeding to call her a lazy asshole. How can she be so oblivious to the fact that she is making someone else be responsible for her?

– Something that has ALWAYS bothered me is people who spit. It is a futile endeavor, and one that just makes the city less livable and pleasant. And, people seem to have a proclivity to spit on the subway tracks… I am not sure why, but it is as if people feel this need to leave their mark on the tracks. In my mind, that is the WORST place to spit! It is very enclosed, so the loogie germs have no real way to dissipate, so it is almost like a super-saturated spit zone. As if the subways didn’t gross everyone out enough before. I also hate when people just spit right in the street, or sidewalk. We are a very over-populated city, so if you spit in a high-traffic area, someone is going to step in it and inevitably bring it into their home by way of their shoe. And in the winter, you just get those frozen loogies all over the place, which are not pretty.

– Finally, I am sick of the garbage bag scavengers… These are the people who go through the bags and pick out bottles to turn in for recycling. Now, they certainly do some good (they are like the bumble bees of the public waste management system)… They recycle lots of plastics that would otherwise just sit idle for thousands of years in some junk heap. Plus, they have found a way to capitalize on something that some others are either unwilling or unable to do, which is the American way! But, in the process, they leave torn bags of garbage that, when lifted, break open and leave a scattered mess on the sidewalk. This contributes to litter as well as vermin. There must be a way to do this in a neater fashion!

Bottom line: I hate litter. I surmise that one reason it is so prevalent around NYC is because we have so many transplants that either just got here, don’t plan on staying long, or don’t take any pride in this being their home. But, it makes life a bit less bearable for the rest of us prideful New Yorkers. I TRULY think that there should be a stiff fine for litterers. I know, I know… “The police have more important things to do with their time!” I disagree. Every great culture has begun to decline when their denizens stopped caring about the greater good, and that couldn’t be more evident than it is in the way people handle their garbage.

6 Comments so far

  1. Eric (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 11:53 am

    Oh, Noah. Please don’t come visit my neighborhood, in which I am the only human being who picks up after his dog. I even have tres gay doggie bags in an even tres gayer doggie bag holder attached to my leash for this purpose.
    And I am the only one. I often wonder why I bother given my dog makes piles about one fifth the size of the average dog up there. But there you have it.
    I say we start our own little Hell’s Angels spinoff group, all about litter and owning your own shit – or that of your dog. Name thoughts?


  2. Fern Ellen Cohen (unregistered) on February 16th, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

    Noah,
    thank you for bringing up the spitting problem. I notice it is mostly immigrants from the third world in my neighborhood who think it is okay to expectorate anywhere they happen to be. And accompanied by that loud “wikh too” that goes with it!!! Disgusting!!! I don’t get it

    Know what else I don’t get? Clipping nails on the subway and then letting the clippings fall onto the floor! What is up with that? What is so urgent that anyone cannot wait until they get to the office or home to clip their nails. What’s next? Shaving armpits? Cleaning out ears with q-tips? Picking belly-button lint? And don’t get me started with public nose-picking!

    I once caught a German tourist throw her half-eaten bagel in the street at 46th and 6th in the pouring rain. I picked it up with a plastic bag, brought it to her and deposited the rain-soaked doughy blob in her tote bag, saying “here, you dropped this.” She was puzzled. And what’s worse is she will probably go back to her meticulously clean town and tell her friends “Ach, New York is so dirty”.


  3. Neil (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 10:53 am

    Spitting on sidewalks, cutting nails, throwing garbage around. Is NYC infested with ratboys?

    They should start a DOB in line for litterers (if they dont already have one).


  4. Noah (unregistered) on February 18th, 2007 @ 8:28 pm

    Good call, Fern! Yea, tourists ALWAYS complain about how dirty NYC is, but it does seem that they are complicit, throwing garbage or food wherever they please.

    Yes, nail clipping is getting out of control. People clip their nails in the office, which is bad enough, but the last thing I need is some nasty dude’s nail clipping stuck in the treading of my sneaker.


  5. Bob (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 8:48 am

    Get over it. People spitting in the street does little, if any, harm in New York City. It gets washed away on the first rain and can’t compare with the oozing liquids from garbage bags, oil dripping from cars, exhaust put out by buildings, doggie doo, and other disgusting waste put on our streets.

    Sometimes people like to clear their throat/mouth. It’s a habit humans have been doing for thousands of years. Next you’ll say when people “have to” piss and they go in a garbage can that its ‘not right’. Get over it. Thousands of dogs do it everyday and noone says a word.

    Some people like to spit, so let them. There are other, more important, things to be concerned about. If you find it disgusting, then don’t do it.


  6. Noah (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 9:09 am

    Bob, you must live in Chinatown.



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