In an attempt to remain as healthy as possible I jog or bike a couple of times a week on State Highway 87, some of you may have seen me. I usually get looks of disbelief from drivers, but from time to time I receive a kind wave of the hand.
I do realize how crazy it is to be exercising in the dry intolerable heat on a busy highway, where the speed exceeds 70 mph, but it allows me to take the time to enjoy the beauty of Mason County. The miles and miles of native grasses, ancient rock formations and rolling hills peppered with cacti, mesquite and oaks puts me in a state of peace, where even the most thunderous eighteen-wheeler can’t disturb me. The cars and trucks just pass me by and I can’t seem to get through a mile without several grasshoppers loudly fluttering back and forth from the tall grasses to the highway and back again. Despite the sweat and exhaustion, those 30 minutes of peace on the pavement, out of the hours of stress in a day, can do a lot of good for the body.
However, what’s becoming difficult to ignore is the trash scattered along both sides of State Highway 87. It takes away from the aesthetics of Mason County and it has become obvious that these various pieces of garbage have been thrown out or have fallen out of the vehicles traveling on Highway 87, to and from Fredicksburg.
Only traveling a mile and observing trash on both sides of the freeway I have found cans of Keystone Light, Coors Light, and Bud Light. For plastics, I happened to find empty bottles of water, Gatorade, Diet Coke, an empty bag of Lay’s Mesquite chips, a milk jug, a large Styrofoam cup from Sonic, an empty pack of Marlboro Lights 100s, a beverage from Jack in the Box, a Styrofoam cup from Nu-Way, dry packets of ketchup from ShortStop, and an old dumpster lid covered with a 2004 Bush/Cheney bumper sticker sinking into the ditch. There was only one glass bottle, a Bud Light Lime, but there was so much broken glass on the highway that it shimmered off the road, looking as if it had been mixed in with the asphalt on purpose. Last but not least there was the predictable tire rubber, balls of wire and cigarette butts.
After doing an inventory of all the trash I realized that almost all of it was recyclable, but this trash hadn’t even made it to a garbage can. I also couldn’t help but wonder if the ranchers along the highway have noticed the trash, because the wind tends to blow it on their property. In the city or in the country, litter can end up in all sorts of places – bird nests, front lawns, in the stomachs of pets or livestock, abandoned lots, oceans, and waterways like Comanche Creek where it accumulates and becomes an eyesore to the Mason community. I guess what’s important to realize is that when we buy items we are also paying for the packaging. We can either reuse the material, thereby maintaining a fraction of its monetary value or we could just throw it away. All products have a life cycle; some can cause problems for days, decades or even for centuries. Just because it’s no longer in sight doesn’t mean it’s no longer a problem.
Our taxes are either used to have it cleaned up, it’s ignored, we get used to the litter and allow it to degrade our neighborhoods and environment, we all pitch in to clean it up or we could just stop it at its source – preferably by recycling it or just throwing it away. When you see someone littering let them know it’s not OK, because it’s disrespectful to you, them and the community. For better or worse, everyone has a hand in the direction of their community . . . everyone.
If you would like to know more about recycling or would like to organize a community clean-up, please contact me at anytime and I’d be glad to help.