If you watch the TV show Mad Men, you might remember the startling little scene in the video above from the first season, set at the dawn of the 1960s. In it, the outwardly perfect Draper family – Dad Don, Mom Betty, daughter Sally and son Bobby, are finishing up a picnic and packing up to leave. Watch the clip (it’s only a minute or so long) and get a load of what happens just before they get into the car.
Amazing, right? Yet it says just about everything there is to say about how cavalier people used to be about leaving trash – cups and cans and bottles and napkins and other detritus – not only at picnic sites but perhaps most especially by the side of the roads. How easy it was to just toss things out the windows of our cars and trucks!
Which goes a long way to explaining why, back in my childhood here at the Manse, a group of kids could spend a lucrative afternoon walking along the pretty country roads outside Queensborough – or anywhere else, for that matter – collecting soft-drink and/or beer bottles for the nickels and dimes they would bring when turned in. While that’s a happy childhood memory for me – I wrote about it in this post – I have to say I am very glad those days are gone. Remember how they resulted in this TV public-service announcement, which surely is seared into the brain of every North American over the age of 50 or so?
Anyway. Sometimes I wonder if those days are as long-gone as they should be. While there are a gazillion things that I love about living here in Queensborough, and while I see new beautiful things in the countryside around us every single day, one thing that upsets me is the trash I see by the side of our pretty rural roadways. It’s not just around Queensborough, of course; I see it along rural roads in many parts of Hastings County and beyond. And I have to stress that the problem is far, far less pronounced than in the days of my Pure Spring-bottle-collecting youth. And I know that the culprits are a very small minority among the people who live here.
But there are enough coffee cups and soft-drink and beer cans and plastic water bottles and assorted fast-food-resto wrappings to indicate that some people still don’t get it. To prove it, let me show you what I picked up this past Sunday morning in a stretch of no more than two kilometres along Queensborough Road:
People, come on. If you’re finished with that coffee, or that hamburger, how complicated is it to toss the cup or wrappings into a bag in your car, or at least into the back seat, and dispose of it properly when you get home (or to a gas station with a trash bin)? Don’t you realize it’s your own surroundings you’re fouling? Please, please – we live in a beautiful place. Let’s show that we recognize and appreciate that, and keep it that way.