Send your question to Umbra!
Q. My city is littered with litter! It is all over the place. I try to pick up litter whenever I am outside, but I am only one person. What other methods can I employ to clean up my city?
A. Dearest Blakely,
Of all the environmental issues out there, you’d think litter would be the one we could all agree to fix. After all, when’s the last time you heard someone argue in favor of greasy potato chip bags in the park or cigarette butts in the harbor? But despite the near-universal distaste for litter, there’s still trash flying around town. Go figure.
I’m glad to hear you’re concerned. As you may already know, the litter problem does more than make a neighborhood look, well, trashy. Free-range garbage also makes its way into storm drains, and from there, local waterways, where it can end up in the stomachs of turtles and seabirds. It may attract pets and wildlife, which in turn invites the spread of germs. Litter diverts recyclable items from the recycling plant. And in case those reasons don’t move you -- personally, you had me at turtles in distress -- littering costs businesses and governments billions in cleanup. That’s a high price to pay for the “convenience” of tossing a banana peel out the car window.