When was the last time you threw a piece of trash out the window of your vehicle? Or tossed trash in the pickup bed, knowing well it would blow out down the highway? When was the last time you picked up the trash out of a roadside ditch?

I know all too well that I’m guilty as anyone of throwing trash out the window. As a kid, it happened. I still have to rag my dad about tying down feed sacks and securing hay string on trips back home to feed cows. I’m sure we’re all guilty of littering at one time or another. But you know what? We grow up, too!

Over the past few months, I’ve stuck to my running goals and the neighborhood streets make a great running track. The roadside ditches here in Montana actually work really well to avoid what little traffic we have around town, because they are mostly wide and dry more often than not (one benefit of living in a near-desert).

pick up your trash road litterAlong with that increased time running, I’ve also become much more aware of how much trash litters the ditch. Sure, I understand wanting to toss a banana peel, apple core, and occasional snot rag. And yeah, there’s a vacant lot across the street from my house, but the amount of trash people throw out of their vehicles can be amazing. My neighbors really love their Taco Johns, Lewis and Clark beer, Bud Light/Coors Light 40oz cans and cigarettes.

I am usually frustrated enough by the trash to pick up a piece or two as I make my way back to the house at the end of a run, but today I actually took a large trash can out to pick it all up. A large bag and a half later (all that from strictly in front of my house, mind you) my corner of the busy intersection looks a little better. A sigh of relief, but also a little frustration at how careless neighbors can be.

The thing most frustrating for me, as a runner, to encounter on a roadside would have to be glass bottles. They don’t disintegrate, but rather break into several sharp pieces when hit by a ditch mower or stray vehicle tire. That, and plastic bottles that were once used as spit cans. I really don’t want to navigate around that opportunity for a messy situation.

Roadside trash is also a nuisance for livestock owners. Much of that trash blows into the field and is either eaten by livestock or baled up in the hay field. Hardware disease is a common occurrence in grazing animals and can cause distress on their digestive tract and even death. It’s not only the roadside trash that poses a threat, but also think about those balloons you let go at celebrations. What goes up, must come down. I can’t tell you how many balloons and other flying objects I’ve had to pick up out of pastures over the years.

Bottom line, be an adult. Pick up your trash. Throw it away when your filling up the tank. Secure loose objects in the bed of your pickup and save that crap to throw away when you get home. Runners will appreciate. Livestock owners will appreciate. And your neighborhood will look that much cleaner.

That’s your public service announcement for the weekend. Now go back to your distracted driving, making runners dive off the road shoulder into those trashy ditches.