An ounce of prevention

Published 12:40 am Tuesday, January 24, 2012

At the Civic Center: an overfilled ashtray’s worth of cigarette butts dumped in the parking lot.

On the waterfront: the breeze blowing fast-food wrappers down the promenade, a gust or two away from a dive in the river.

At Jack’s Creek: plastic cups and bags, papers, all the detritus of Washington’s streets washed into the creek after a good rain.

Twice a year, once in the fall, once in the spring, the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation holds its river cleanups. A slew of volunteers descends upon the river to clean it up, grabbing trash and putting it where it belongs: in a landfill. Not in the river.

Since 2006, the PTRF volunteers have slogged over 15,000 pounds of trash from the Pamlico — trash like, oh, say, cigarette butts tangled in grasses on low banks; fast-food wrappers bogged down amongst the lily pads beneath the boardwalk; plastic cups and bags, wrappers and papers, floating in our beautiful river.

Most people don’t have to be told to pick up their trash. Most people recognize that if everyone litters like some do, our environment would shabby, indeed.

But most people object to picking up someone else’s trash.

It’s time to get our hands dirty with someone else’s rubbish: if you see it, pick it up. Don’t let the wrapper blow past you even if you didn’t have the luxury of eating that Whopper. Don’t let the can sit in the gutter, even if you didn’t drink that Budweiser.

Every ounce of trash members of our community pick up prevents one less ounce from contributing to the 7.5 tons already lifted from the Pamlico by people just like you: volunteers helping to keep our river clean.