A lesson from Clean the Bay Day

Published 9:01 pm Monday, June 5, 2017

More than 40 tires. Shopping carts. Car batteries?!

The variety of garbage — not to mention the sheer volume of it — that is pulled from the marshes, creeks, riverside and parks in Suffolk during the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s annual Clean the Bay Day is just hard for regular people to understand.

Who would toss a car battery into the river, anyway? Or a shopping cart? That’s just not behavior most people with a shred of social decency could imagine.

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And yet, this year’s haul from the Nansemond River, from the parks around Suffolk and from the various trails and creek beds scoured by volunteers during the course of a few hours on Saturday morning was not all that unusual.

There are always mounds of tires and mounds of bright orange garbage bags at the end of these events. On the one hand, we are thankful to the volunteers for all their hard work. On the other hand, we just want to smack the people who decided to make all this garbage somebody else’s problem.

And Suffolk hardly wins the award for the most garbage or even the most exotic. According to a CBF official, volunteers around Virginia collected about 100,000 pounds of litter and debris from some 450 miles of shoreline during Saturday’s event. Since the program began in 1989, volunteers have removed more than 6.4 million pounds of debris from more than 7,390 miles of shoreline during the Clean the Bay Day events.

That’s just a staggering amount of trash. And the accumulation reveals a staggering level of disdain for the environment and for their fellow Virginians by what we expect is a relatively small minority of people who cannot be bothered to take the simple detour necessary to find a nearby trash can.

The sociopathy of such a disdain for one’s neighbors nearly leaves us speechless.

Every Clean the Bay Day proves one thing, if nothing else: Regardless of the disrespect the litterers among us show to their neighbors and to the environment, there are many fine people who care enough to go out and try to set things right.

That’s a wonderful thing, for sure. But, to be honest, we’d still like to smack whoever dropped those tires into the river upside the head.