Lit up by litter

blogIMG_3991.jpgI apologize ahead of time, but if you clicked into Mama’s Empty Nest today for some encouraging words, I’m not sure you will find them. Instead, please bear with me while I go on a bit of a rant. And yes, I am remembering all too well my post from Tuesday about giving others grace, but I still have to get this out of my system.

Mama’s Empty Nest is situated along a country road.  Yes, we are rural – living a few miles outside of our nearest towns – but we’re not isolated. The two-lane state road that weaves past our house is well-traveled with local traffic and leads to an interchange for the four-lane highway taking one to the city.

Living in the country though we still have some ills of more populated areas. One of those is litter. Just the other day we were following an SUV on our byway when not only paper was flung out the vehicle window but a black plastic garbage bag as well. I was shocked at such blatant actions. 

And litter is a problem in our own yard, which is expansive – about 2.4 acres – and fronts the road.  I can’t tell you how many times we have had to pick up someone else’s trash thrown into our yard.

You name it, it’s been there. Beer cans and bottles, pop (soda) bottles, plastic water bottles, fast food wrappers and cups, plastic bags, all kinds of paper (once even a doctor’s instructions for a patient), cardboard boxes, you get the idea.

It’s annoying and Papa resorts to asking why people can be such pigs when he has to climb off his lawn tractor while mowing the yard to pick up other’s refuse. Don’t they have trash cans at home?

Earlier this week, before the rain, we had a glorious, sunshine-filled, warm spring day. Little One (my three-year-old granddaughter) and I enjoyed the afternoon outside soaking up the sun, examining the leaf buds on the trees, filling up the bird feeder, picking daffodils, and checking out the newly planted strawberry plants. 

I talked to her about spring and how the season changes things while we inspected the blueberry and raspberry bushes to see if there were signs of revitalization there.

Before we went back inside for a drink of cool water, we decided to walk to the mailbox and retrieve the mail and the day’s newspaper. On the way, I spied trash in our yard again. And then I had to deliver a little lesson to Little One about not throwing trash anywhere but the trash receptacle, even if some people don’t adhere to that lesson.

I’m human – far from perfect – and I have to confess it angered me to find garbage in our yard but I found it even more infuriating when I picked up the discarded item and saw what it was.

An empty cigarette box. But not just any cigarette package. No…it was from ‘organic’ cigarettes. Really? You purchase organic cigarettes because somehow they are healthier? Give me a break. Even the package had a disclaimer saying “No additives in our tobacco does NOT make a safer cigarette.”

If I’m stepping on some of my reader’s toes because you have succumbed to the habit of smoking, I understand you might get a little cross with me. But let me explain something. I abhor smoking. I detest it. I’m one of those people who literally…Can. Not. Stand. It.

If I’m around cigarette smoke, my nasal passages revolt, my sinuses go haywire, my throat starts to constrict, and I feel like I cannot breathe. And that leads to something akin to a panic attack. I must escape to find some fresh, clean air.

That’s why I rejoiced when restaurants and other public places became smoke-free.

I have a difficult time understanding why folks continue (or start) lighting up with all the information we now know about the health hazards of cigarette smoking.  

If you want to cause yourself and your family harm from doing so, it’s your choice. It is your business. I get that. Just please don’t do it in my presence for my health’s sake and stop throwing your discarded cigarette packages in my yard.

If I sound harsh, I’m sorry but unless you have a physical aversion to cigarette smoke like I do, you probably don’t understand.

And here’s the ironic kicker.  In addition to the trash in our yard being an organic cigarette package, I found the information printed on the back of the package satirical:

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“RESPECT FOR THE EARTH. Reducing Waste. Our dedicated manufacturing facility is a 100% zero-waste-to-landfill operation, recycling and repurposing all waste – absolutely nothing ends up in a landfill.”

Apparently the company producing these things attempts to be “green.” But here’s the thing – your packages end up in my yard. Obviously, the end user of your product doesn’t respect the earth while throwing it out the car window.

Nor is the person respecting my little piece of earth.

“All I’m askin’ is for a little respect…” ~ Otis Redding (who wrote the lyrics to Respect)

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