Chance Encounter

I’ve neglected this blog, the reasons for that being legion, but the primary reason being that we’ve moved, but I’ve continued the habit of picking up after litterbugs.

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It’s ingrained.

Now that we’ve settled in, I’ve selected my own personal ‘adopt a spot’ litter location, across the street from the new home.  People like to park there at night, and there’s the usual selection of empty beer bottles and cans,

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energy drink cans and convenience food packaging,

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cigarette butts and packaging,

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baggies, candy wrappers and miniature liquor bottles.

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Y’know, judging by the litter on our roadsides, we’re a selfish and decadent society.

The spot’s looking cleaner already and pretty soon I’ll have to forage further afield to find filth.  But today, I had gardening on the agenda and that task led to a meeting with a fellow traveler, the second such meeting I’ve had since we relocated.  As follows:

I was driving out to the town compost facility this morning and what do I see?  A lady with a pick stick in one hand, and a repurposed grocery store bag in the other, working her way through some litter alongside the railroad right of way.  I couldn’t help myself.  I pulled over and said hello.  And when I thanked her for what she was doing, she said something like: “Well, we live right here, and I get tired of looking at the mess so it’s not much more effort to pick it up as it is to look at it.”

Yep.  That about sums it up. I told her that I do the same thing, and I mentioned the possibility of having an organized cleanup in the area.  While the lady was polite, I didn’t get the feeling that she was immediately interested.  I said nice to meet you and drove off to continue what I’d been doing.

I’m thinking of starting a little facebook page to network with other residents of the area – to organize a bit, and do some cleanups.  I think I’ll draw a good number of interested people, and in any case a number of good and interesting people.  We could do ‘flash’ cleanups – just descend on a spot and clean it and leave.  There are quite a few retirees around here who might just be willing.

Meanwhile, I’m scouting equipment

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and continuing to take pictures of roadside litter.  Perhaps in search of those elusive grocery store plastic bags that people want to ban so much.  Wait, here’s one…er, forget it.  Just another smiley bag.

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Not seeing them.  Are you?  Maybe it’s time for another post on that topic.

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Brook Street Litter

Upland freshwater marsh, a stream, a pond, woods and one macadam road running through it.  Everyone in town knows the Brook Street Preserve.  At first glance, it looks idyllic, beautiful even, and it is.

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Freshwater pond in the rain
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West branch of the Orowoc Creek, from Brook Street looking north, upstream

You have to slow down and look a little closer before you see the mess.

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‘Out the window’ litter, mostly

As with any out-of-the-way wooded area in a busy suburb, the Suffolk County owned Brook Street preserve is a litter magnet.

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A neighbor placed this convenient trash can at an entrance to the preserve.

It requires constant attention to keep clean. Brook Street has been the focus of Keep Islip Clean sponsored cleanup efforts for decades. Year in and year out, Spring and Fall, the cleanups continue.  The Middle School ‘KIC’ team is the sponsor. There are lots of volunteers, official and unofficial. I pick at it throughout the year.

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The king of discarded emptys

 

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Convenient hip-pocket sized vodka doser

 

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Done with that? Out the window.

 

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Black plastic bags are the mobile drinkers choice

 

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One of many plastic bags tangled in the brambles

 

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Huh?

 

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Glass shards litter the overpass above the Orowoc Creek

 

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Plastic bottle, bowling ball (?) and some oranges litter the stream bed of the West Orowoc, south of Brook Street. It’ll require a volunteer or two with hip waders to get to this spot. That should be fun.

The cleanup date is April 18th, a Saturday, and I’m planning to join in.  I’m also trying to drum up some more volunteers from the neighborhood to show up.  This is not an easy thing to do, since Saturday mornings are busy times for all of us. But there are always the few reliable volunteers who come out for most of the cleanups, and you often get a neighbor or two who pop in to help.  There are seldom a huge group of volunteers showing up, but in my experience there are always enough.

Slainte?

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Beer Cans, Baggies and Other Hot Potatoes

Ok.  You can almost understand this one.  But not.  The empties really ought to go right out the window as soon as they’re empty.  After all, they’re evidence.  Kind of like dumping the dead body.  We get it, yes, but… .

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98 bottles of beer now. Really?

I suppose this is why the baggies go out there too… .

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Drugs. After.

Of course there’s another option – don’t drink and drive; don’t take drugs and drive.  But if people were inclined to obey all of the laws there would be no need for the police.  In fact one of the stand-out statistics for the County of Suffolk is our leading position in the number of people arrested for DWI under Leandra’s Law (354 since inception, followed by 185 for, you guessed it: Nassau).  That’s the crime that you commit where you’re loaded and driving around with the kids in the car.  Usually, it’s after an accident but there’s not always a crash before moms, dads or caregivers wind up in handcuffs for this one.

Suffolk, according to a representative from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, had a ‘team in place’ already when the law went into effect and so was ready to enforce this law immediately.  Nice to hear MADD giving props to a well planned police initiative, the cops need their support.

There’s another side to that coin:  It’s fair to say that Suffolk County has a DWI problem.   Whether it’s the sheer number of roadways in the County, population density, some kind of suburban thing, the lack of mass transit (don’t buy that one), or a cultural tilt(s) towards the bottle as fuel for fun and entertainment, it’s a problem.  A summer spent picking up empties every Sunday morning doesn’t make me optimistic about the trend line on this crime.

Beer cans and bottles, wine bottles, vodka bottles, mixed drinks, ‘shot bags’ (I’d share a link to a purveyer of these but I don’t want to promote them, think a small baggie full of booze) and lots of variations on the theme can be found lining the roads ANYWHERE you look in Suffolk.  Many of these containers are conveniently ‘travel sized’,

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Travel size vodka bottle. Perfect for the car.
and contained in small non-transparent plastic bags (usually black) from the convenience store.  If the cops can’t see it, maybe they won’t think it’s beer!  Wrong. Anyhow, we have a retail sector that caters to the ‘mobile’ alcoholic.  

A lot of people who never thought they’d be arrested are going to be arrested before this worm turns, count on it.  Cheers?  I don’t think so.