Talkin' trash

Despite the tall electric transmission towers the countryside view of Newton County, Texas, is quite nice.

The place where I was raised has its drawbacks such as it being home to some hard core rednecks and being one of the poorest counties in the country.

But if you are fortunate enough to live or have lived in Newton County, at the most eastern extremity of Texas, you will be surrounded by some of the greatest scenery that the East Texas Pineywoods has to offer.

So the question I must raise after having visited my old hometown last weekend is this: Why in the hell — in this day in age — are people still dumping their s**t in that beautiful countryside?

Just down the road from the highline view is all this trash. Isn’t it lovely?

Texas has had for quite a few years one of the most successful advertising campaigns ever called “Don’t Mess With Texas.” More than just advertisements on TV and radio by some of Texas’ most revered luminaries such as Willie Nelson and the late Stevie Ray Vaughn, the campaign has helped educate and raise awareness of what price littering brings. For instance:

“It cost approximately $32 million to clean up roadside litter in Texas last year. Ninety percent of this cost is paid for with tax dollars.”

That should be enough to get anyone’s attention even if you aren’t some bleeding-heart, Owl Gore-loving, environmentalist.

Still people litter. And that is the key to this particular type of backwoods dumping, I believe, that they still litter.

Various studies cite reasons why people litter including the lack of available solid waste disposal facilities (a.k.a. junk piles). But having grown up in East Texas, I know that even with available junk piles people have always used the beautiful, isolated countryside for their private dumps. It’s a cultural thing and many of those who continue to dump will not change their ways unless they are dragged kicking, screaming and shooting their shotguns into the awareness that “littering bad, not littering, good.”

Many places, around Texas, at least, have received grants for funding cops who do nothing but hunt down those who dump their mess in places they shouldn’t. I hate to see garbage cops added to the list of those institutions in which law enforcement is needed to intervene but it seems there is little choice.

I’m not picking on my old hometown but am using it as an example. It is inexcusable to create and perpetuate illegal dumps like those above. People need to quit screwing with the ever-shrinking countryside and take a little extra time to dump where they should be dumping. Otherwise, they should pay a hefty fine and perhaps be sentenced to community service cleaning up such places.

Okay, enough of my high horse. I better go before I get altitude sickness.

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