Cleanliness next to Godliness?

 On the same day that I read a reader-submitted editorial in The Daily Advertiser about litter, I discovered a drainage pipe behind my home totally clogged by a “litter-dam.”  The newspaper editorial was written by a new resident to Lafayette.  He stated that he loves the culture, the people, and most everything else about living in Cajun Country . . . except he bemoaned how trashy and unkempt many roadsides are –  many of them heavily strewn with litter.  I totally agree with our newly-arrived neighbor in Lafayette. I hate litter and what it does to our environment and how it makes us appear to be devoid of any pride in where we live.

 Back to my clogged drainage pipe.  Branches had accumulated at the opening of the 12-inch pipe.  Then litter came in behind the branches, creating an impassable dam and slowing the flow of rainwater into the pipe to a mere trickle.  The large drainage channel filled up, and water was visibly coming under the fence along the backside of my back yard.  More rain would have raised the non-flowing water dangerously close to the back door of my home.

 After I condemned the inconsiderate people who threw down all the litter which was largely responsible for seriously impeding the drainage of the channel, I set out to clear the clogged pipe. I cleared the litter dam, then raked and picked up over 500 pounds of leaves that had accumulated behind the litter dam.  I believe that people who mindlessly litter just do not think about the consequences of their lazy, mindless actions.  Some people seem to think that there are litter crews whose job it is to clean litter from the roadways and drainage channels.  That thinking is totally incorrect, irresponsible, and harmful to our community.

 Consider a newspaper article from The News-Star in 2006.  Toyota Motor Company executives were touring manufacturing plants in various cities in the southeastern U.S. to determine where they would locate a new facility to manufacture the Toyota Prius.  West Monroe was on the short list of cities under consideration.  Louisiana Senator Robert Barham met the executives at the Monroe airport to give them a tour of a plant where Toyota could establish a manufacturing facility.  On route to the proposed plant, a Toyota executive turned to Senator Barham and said, “we are not locating a plant here.  This is the trashiest place I’ve seen.  How can we trust that people here will properly assemble our cars, when they have no more pride than to trash their community such as it is.”

 The Toyota plant located in Tupelo, Mississippi.  Imagine that, Louisiana lost out on an automotive manufacturing plant – with well-paying jobs – because the appearance of the roadsides portrayed a population that takes no pride in where they live because they trash their community with litter.

 I know that most people reading this do not litter.  Please make it your business to convey to immediate family and friends that litter and illegal roadside dumping severely hurts our environment and our image as a caring people who take great pride in where they live.  Make sure the young people in your lives hear from you regularly about the importance of not littering.  Please pick up any litter you can – in your neighborhoods and in your immediate surroundings.  Most of us are proud of where we live.  We need the people who do litter to understand that they are lessening the quality of life for us all when they mindlessly throw down trash and litter.

-Mark Pope