The pick of the litter

Subscribers Only Content

High resolution image downloads are available to subscribers only.


Not a subscriber? Try one of the following options:

OUR SERVICES VISIT CAGLE.COM

FREE TRIAL

Get A Free 30 Day Trial.

No Obligation. No Automatic Rebilling. No Risk.

Just because I think littering should be punishable by death doesn’t mean I’m an unreasonable person.

I leave tips at restaurants. I smile when dogs get on public transport. Sometimes, I cry during sitcoms.

I also have a freshly-oiled chainsaw in my garage. But most suburbanites do.

The suburbs are not usually places where one expects to find litter.

That’s not because everyone here lives out that episode from “The X-Files” where a garbage monster kills people who put up tacky decorations.

It’d be cool if that were a thing. It’d also save me a lot of work. But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.

I’ve just spent enough time picking other people’s rubbish out of my lawn that I’m considering installing landmines in place of the sprinkler system.

You might argue that suburbs are no place for landmines. And you’re right. They’d be much more effective in cities.

Let us be clear. The people who can’t bother making it to a trash can before they grind what’s left of their pizza into the sidewalk are not good people.

They don’t work to cure cancer, or volunteer with the elderly, or write humor columns. They just make clean places dirty.

So if we had something more compelling than anti-littering fines that never get paid, you’d merely observe a brief besplattering. Then the sidewalks would stay clean. Permanently.

Look, I offered a solution. I didn’t say it was a good one. Once you think about it, it isn’t really that humane. Also, it wouldn’t work at scale.

Here’s another simple solution. In addition to sending kids on field trips to Hersheypark, bus them to dirty areas and have them clean up.

For one, it’ll get those places clean. See, I told you it was simple.

For two, it’d teach children to respect sanitation workers and other people who keep things nice, like cart pushers, plumbers, and their mothers.

For three, it’s somewhat cheaper to buy fifth-graders grabber reacher sticks and gloves than it is to send more environmentalists to Washington. And it’s a lot cheaper than landmines.

For four, if the parents complain, just invite them to clean up with their kids. No matter whether they say yes or no, someone will learn a lesson about character.

The best part about this kind of effort is that it’ll encourage us to appreciate nature and respect others. At least, the others who don’t stick gum under picnic tables.

This doesn’t have to be a national initiative or anything like that.

Suggest a community cleanup at your Book of the Month Club, or Gardening Barefoot Because You Like to Live Dangerously Club, or Pigeon Fanciers’ Society. I won’t judge.

Okay, I might judge a little if you’re a pigeon fancier. But I’d be grateful, too.

We can make the places we love a little better. We can begin to clean the world from our backyards. We can start right now.

If you’re reading this column in print, there are three ways to prevent it from becoming litter. You could tack it on your fridge. You could recycle it. Or I could get my chainsaw.

Copyright 2024 Alexandra Paskhaver, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.

Alexandra Paskhaver is a software engineer and writer. Both jobs require knowing where to stick semicolons, but she’s never quite; figured; it; out. For more information, check out her website at https://apaskhaver.github.io.