LESLIE CRISS: No ifs, ands or buts – put litter where it belongs

“I really wonder what gives us the right to wreck this poor planet of ours.”
– Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

“Your descendants shall gather your fruits.”
– Virgil

When I was a kid, being called a litterbug was tantamount to being called stupid.
And stupid was one of several words not allowed in our home because it was just plain bad.
“Do not call your sister stupid” were words my sister and I both heard from our parents on more than one occasion.
I remember the day I called a childhood friend a litterbug after she’d tossed an empty drink cup from the window of her bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle. She looked at me as if I’d slapped her in the face.
“That’s not very nice,” this littering pal said to me.
I then told her much more than she wanted to hear about the evils of littering this planet of ours.
She’d heard it all before. We learned it in school and from parents and from TV.
Still and yet, she thought nothing about joining the ranks of litterbugs.
I also remember being mortified the day my own land-loving grandmother tossed a bright yellow Wrigley Juicy Fruit gum wrapper out the window of her red Rambler.
I stared at her, mouth agape for a moment before I was able to speak in an accusatory tone: “You littered.”
It was then my sweetheart of a grandmother said these words: “It’s OK to litter if it’s small enough for the birds to use it to build their nests.”
It was years before I realized I’d never seen any colorful gum wrappers forming the foundation of any bird nests. And it was years before I’d admit my sweetheart of a grandmother, who always admonished me to “tell the truth,” had either been fibbing or misinformed.
Here’s the truth: Litter is litter. Period.
As Earth Day nears, let’s talk a moment about a bit of litter brought to my attention recently by a good friend when we were at a stoplight.
Next time you are stopped at an intersection, look down and you’ll see it too. Butts. Butts galore.
Cigarette butts, though small, are very much litter. And they are not biodegradable.
According to some butt facts I found online, it can take years – sometimes up to 15 – for cigarette filter fibers to decay. That powder can still find its way into our rivers, streams and oceans.
Want more? The poison in butts can kill small animals and make domestic pets very sick.
It’s estimated that trillions of filters, filled with toxic chemicals, become a part of our environment as discarded waste each year. You’ll see a lot of these curbside right here in Tupelo.
So, please, do our earth a favor.
Put your butts where they belong.

Contact Leslie Criss at leslie.criss@djournal .com or (662) 678-1584.

Daily Journal