photo by Andrew Kearns

Litter Stories!

We thought it might be fun and interesting to include some personal litter vignettes. Your personal experience might be about the most unusual piece of litter, the most ironic or the funniest. Would you like to submit one? Please email me at joan@cleanmv.org and tell me your story and we'll post it here.

Travelin’ Business Card

In 1970, on our nation’s first Earth Day, I participated in helping remove litter on Mt Tam. As I recall, there were mostly cans and glass bottles since plastic wasn’t so ubiquitous at the time. I did find a business card of an insurance agent in Massachusetts and subsequently mailed it to him with a picture from the Marin Independent Journal about the huge amount of garbage collected in various areas of our county that day.

The insurance agent actually wrote back to me and said he had never been to California. The moral to the story must be, “Litter travels, even if you don’t.”

— Joan Murray

One Piece of Litter Every Day Could Make All the Difference

Because I hike and bike everyday, I’m well acquainted with our local landscape. People say Mill Valley doesn’t have a litter problem, but it’s simply not true. I see litter along major streets like East Blithedale and Miller Avenue, and on their medians. It collects along our streamways and near every major shopping area, restaurant and parking lot. Wherever I go, I pick up litter.

Most baffling to me has been the constant trickle of papers and other light materials in our town’s quiet residential areas because most people secure their trash canisters from animals and the elements, both factors in the distribution of litter when humans are not directly responsible.

Regardless, I pick up the litter, and the area’s litter free again, but on a particular day of the next week… more litter! In time, it became clear to me that garbage trucks were inadvertently responsible for distributing small pieces of debris along their routes. Don’t get me wrong; I am not disparaging Mill Valley Refuse or any local collection service. I feel privileged to live in an area where we recycle so much. Visiting friends go green with envy when they see our extensive recycling program. I am merely suggesting that our garbage collectors could use a little help.

If every resident would mentally extend their property boundaries 30 feet in all directions, and make a point to pick up just ONE piece of litter on garbage day, or any other day for that matter, we could effectively eliminate 99% of the litter that is dispersed either out of reckless disregard, or by accident.

If we were to extend this mentality out of our neighborhoods and into our town’s shopping areas and parking lots, Mill Valley wouldn’t have much of a litter problem.

— Debra Schwartz (owner of Tam Hiking Tours)

Featuring

Who: Heather Itzla of San Anselmo

What: www.thereisnoaway.net

Why: She makes lovely artistic and thought-provoking arrangements of the plastics that she encounters in one-hour walks with her dogs.

Do not miss her website!

Heather warns that since bioplastics (examples are the forks and spoons that you find in Whole Foods) are not recycled in Marin, they end up in our landfills where they cannot break down. They do not get composted and they cannot be recycled. Our landfill allows only 45 days to compost and it takes 180 days before these materials can be broken down. Using bioplastics does not make sense!

Heather is circulating a petition on her website to “Remove compostable plastics from circulation in Marin.”

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