Talkin’ Trash ~ 2015 Foxcroft Road Pig Pen Awards

2015 was the thirteenth consecutive year of volunteer action to control trash on the Foxcroft Road. The author conducts this survey as a single observer. However, thereare others who also pick up trash on the Foxcroft Road, such as the Middleburg Hunt and the Foxcroft students themselves. Therefore, if anything, the numbers here noted are understated. With the total of 1277 individual pieces of trash, 2015 achieved thehighest production in the thirteen years since this survey was started.

To aid those first time readers and as a reminder to past readers of this column, the course of trash collection is a 4.6 mile route of dirt and hard road that includes portions of the Polecat Hill Rd. (Rt. 696), the Foxcroft Rd. (Rt. 626), the Snake Hill Rd. (Rt. 744), and the Millville Rd. (Rt. 743).

Untitled-8In the past year, 1277 individual pieces of trash, an average of 3.5 per day, were retrieved from the Foxcroft Road. Most of the trash was recycled. The perennial nicotine champion, Marlboro, accounted for 72% of the tobacco total. All the other tobacco products were in single digits at best.

Untitled-7This year a new category, Edible Food-Like Substances or Food-Like Edibles for short has been added. Included are various grocery stores such as Safeway, Food Lion and Walmart, as well as ice cream, potato chips, candy, and various and sundry food products. The usual suspects would be products such as Hostess Twinkies and Slim Jims. This year two processed foods must share first place, Frito-Lay and Dentyne, both with 16 contributions 1.3% of all road trash apiece. Parenthetically it should be noted that Sutter’s Mill, our most popular brand of wine, also had 16 bottles on the road.

Untitled-6In the New Age-Soft Drink category, there was close competition between, the duopoly, Coca Cola and Pepsico (45 vs. 40 in absolute numbers or 32% vs. 29% of the soft drink group). Coke has led Pepsico in four of the last five years. Green Mountain coffee, a newcomer in the New Age market had 19 cups on the road, 25% of the New Age Group, with Red Bull (10) and Arizona (7) being the nearest competitors.

Untitled-5The Fast Food group as a whole sustained robust growth whilst going from 127 (14% of all trash) in 2014, to 239 or 19% of all road trash today. McDonald’s supplied 93 pieces of trash (39% of the Fast Food group). McDonald’s is a leader despite its current strategy of discontinuing more than 800 outlets nationwide. It is too bad that McDonald’s does not start by eliminating the franchises in Purcellville, Marshall and Leesburg. Wendy’s (32 or 13% of fast food) and 7-11 (30 or 12.5%) were the proud runners up.

Untitled-3In the Beer, Wine, and Alcohol category AB InBev currently is responsible for 111 (80% of all beer containers) of Foxcroft Road beer cans and bottles. SABMiller controls only 7% of the beer market. AB InBev accounted for a full 9% of all road trash. Before the sale of Anheuser-Busch to AB InBev the Busch family of beers accounted for totals greater than 200 on at least six out of thirteen years.

The following readily recognizable corporate entities are ranked in order of gross trash production on these public roads:

AB InBev (111, 9% of total road trash)

McDonald’s (93, 7%)

Marlboro (47, 4%)

Coca-Cola (45, 3.5%)

Pepsico (40, 3%)

Wendy’s (32, 2.5%)

7-Eleven (30, 2.3%)

Dr. Pepper (23, 1.8%)

Green Mountain (19, 1.4%)

Gatorade (18, 1.4%)

This year’s Foxcroft Road Pig Pen group grand prize is awarded to the junk food troika of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and 7-11. Together with Chic-Fil-A, Subway, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen etc. accounted for 239 individual pieces of trash or 19% of all trash. This total was achieved in the absence of any fast food establishments in Middleburg itself. The runner up AB InBev had only a modest contribution of 111 (9%).  The duopoly of Coca-Cola and Pepsico (85) trailed AB InBev.  The title of “King of the Road,” is awarded to the junk food category in 2015.

In 2015 we derived inspiration from the international best selling author, Marie Kondo. Her book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sits atop the Washington Post’s best seller list for January 2016. Ms. Kondo’s criteria for differentiating trash from possessions worthy of one’s respect is by asking one’s self if said object “brings joy into one’s life?”  Surely road trash does not bring joy for the vast majority of those who populate Middleburg and surroundings. As has been demonstrated by Ms. Kondo, not only does picking up trash make one feel good but the site of the clean up tends to stay tidied up in the future. A further question would be why would one not pick up road trash? The obvious answer is that trash removal is too much effort, dangerous, time consuming, or just not that important. In actuality it is not that difficult for each individual resident to keep his or her road frontage clear of trash. In Middleburg there is added importance in that glass bottles can cause serious, even life threatening wounds to the horses. Ultimately the roads are part of our world, the only world that we have.