The year 2020 was the eighteenth consecutive year of volunteer action to control trash on the Foxcroft Road. The author conducts this survey as a single observer. The numbers here noted are somewhat understated in that there must be other individuals who pick up trash on these roads. In 2020 there was a total of 847 individual pieces of trash. Over the eighteen years a total of 18,672 pieces have been picked up.
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).
The total number of trash items in 2020 is the lowest in the 18 years of this study. In a COVID 19 dominated year, it is most probable that employment opportunities and resulting volume of vehicular traffic would have been significantly reduced, hence the precipitous drop in McDonald’s trash, down 43% from 2019. However, Seven-Eleven suffered no loss, but still was unable to catch its old rival McDonald’s. Beer containers comprised 21% of total trash. AB InBev was responsible for the most numerous of the beers. Bud Light (43) and Corona (34) were the predominant labels. The internet-alleged linkage of Corona beer to the coronavirus did not seem to depress the total significantly. As somewhat of an outlier, the number of IPA beers increased to 17. Most of the IPA beers retrieved in this study were cans, whilst the Bud Light and Corona containers were usually bottles. Bottles are not horse friendly, and they are harder to see than shiny cans on road sides where they usually lurk and can be obscured by vegetation. The combined totals of unlabelled cups, bottles, plastic bags, and miscellaneous items (represent a hefty 40% of overall trash. These percentages have remained fairly steady for the last five years.
The real goal of studying trash is to get rid of it. Littering is illegal in Virginia. Section 33.1-346 of the legal code of Virginia makes littering or dumping trash a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to twelve months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500. One wonders what the legal fees might amount to for one’s defense if arrested for littering? Besides, jail time for littering could seem to be as effective a deterrent as jail time for poverty. The original act of littering suggests a certain poverty of spirit; a failure to acknowledge responsibility to local, national and global community and for the planet. In a corona virus dominated year one is tempted to read Albert Camus’ La Peste. Rats were the origin of the pestilential bubonic plague. Rats and trash have some common features. Camus’ observation was that “rats would always be with us.”