Pack out your trash
A rambling by Tom Knapp,
April 1994

It was a perfect "spring's here, let's go to the park" kind of day. In Long's Park, outside Lancaster, Pa., people were out in droves. Families picnicked and flew kites. Children romped and chased squirrels. Couples strolled and made romantic use of park benches. Dogs strained at their leashes. And, of course, a few dozen people attempted to prop up their egos by driving in circles and demonstrating how loud their car stereos could go.

As I walked with my dog around the pond, I watched people tossing pieces of bread to the ducks, geese and gigantic goldfish. Ringing the pond, a side effect of an otherwise harmless pastime, were dozens of plastic bread bags, floating in the water or lying crumpled on the banks.

A young boy, perhaps 12 or 14, grabbed a stick from the ground and started fishing bags out of the water. He had gathered a nice pile of them when his mother noticed and ordered him to stop. "There's bacteria in those," the angry woman said. "There's the Parks and Recreation Department to do that."

"Well, they're not doing a very good job," he replied, but he walked away, swishing his stick and leaving his wet pile of plastic behind him on the bank.

It's a shame that people who enjoy the benefits of the park don't care enough about it to take their trash to one of the many convenient cans. It's a shame that one child's desire to address the problem was stifled by an over-protective parent.

Sure, Parks and Rec tries to take care of the public greens as best it can. But it's impossible to keep on top of the tons of litter and debris strewn about by careless patrons.

Whether it's at the beach, the park or the deep woods, it's never a bad idea to give nature a hand and pick up the trash.

[ by Tom Knapp ]