Letters about Litter

"Troubled by Trash" by Steve Green, Keep Williamson Beautiful volunteer

"It’s not just me.  Over the last couple of years I’ve heard many lament the increased trash along roadsides in Franklin and Williamson County.  Even the most pristine and protected roads have become dumping grounds and no longer resemble the Franklin many of us have known, loved and enjoyed.

So, my wife decided to do something about it and I joined her.  Did you know that the recycling department of Williamson Co issues reflective vests, pickers, signs, gloves and trash bags to volunteers who want to help restore Franklin to her former beauty?  (For more information: www.keepwilliamsonbeautiful.org - or email recycle@williamsoncounty-tn.gov) I picked up supplies yesterday at the office on Pinewood Rd.  Our small team of three chose two particularly spoiled sections of road, Del Rio and Old Natchez, and then we donned our vests and went to work.

In four hours we picked up 25 large trash bags of litter over a one and a half mile stretch of roadway.  I had plenty of time to think while filling bags with bottles, cans, cups, cartons and other debris.  Granted, I understand that some of the increased trash in our area is due to the unprecedented growth we’ve experienced in Williamson County.  I’ve seen work trucks, garbage trucks and pickup trucks that unknowingly or carelessly allow unsecured trash to fly from their vehicles.  It also appears that some construction workers from other counties have less regard for our community and don’t seem to mind discarding trash as they leave jobsites.  Still, there are other more troubling concerns about who we Franklinites have become. 

  • It seems we have lost a sense of community.  Instead of owning Franklin and its outlying areas as our city, a place to guard and protect, we retreat to our individual homes and leave the rest to someone else.  That’s why we pay taxes, right?  When we become insolated and isolated from those around us, our world shrinks to a self-centered existence.  When we lose personal affection for the community of Franklin, we will cease to take care each other and the place we call home.
  • Littering proves we have a conscience.  How so?  I’ve never seen people throw out the kind of trash I collected this week from their vehicles. Littering is generally something we sneak and hide.  I discovered that the greatest concentration of litter was on short stretches of road concealed by two curves.  Check the mirrors, make sure no cars are coming, and out it goes! We are sneaky litterers, which proves we know it’s wrong.
  • Drinking and driving is a huge problem.  This was by far the most terrifying realization during my afternoon of trash pickup.  Alcohol containers make up the vast majority of roadside litter.  In a 75-yard stretch of Old Natchez Rd, I picked up 18 bottles of the same kind of Vodka.  (See pic below) There’s a story here.  Someone pitches his or her empty bottle of Vodka along the same stretch of road on a regular basis.  I’m a cyclist and have enjoyed riding the back roads of Williamson Co for over 25 years.  But seeing the sheer number of beer cans and liquor bottles was disheartening.  How have we not learned that drinking and driving is not only illegal, but also deadly?

What can we do about the trash problem?  Each of us can pick up the litter in our own neighborhoods and in front of our homes.  In more rural areas, certainly each homeowner can clean the roadway along their property.  But beyond that, Franklin is our city; Franklin is my city.  So, even if others don’t take care of it, we must!  Instead of walking or driving past trash and thinking it is someone else’s responsibility, we can stop and pick it up.  If we set aside a couple of hours a month and volunteer to clean a section of road, it would transform our area.  I’m convinced that litter invites littering.  Clean roadways remind drivers that it’s inappropriate to litter. If we all do our part, we can help preserve the beauty of Williamson Co.  Will you join me?"

~Written February 23, 2018 by Keep Williamson Beautiful volunteer Steve Green

Steve Green cleanup 1

Steve Green Group 2- litter