Mother and child help picking up trash at park

The year 2021 was the twentieth consecutive year of volunteer action to control trash on 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 2021 the author retrieved 1106 individual pieces of trash. The twenty-year total of this project has been 21,295 pieces. 

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). 

In conclusion, the top ten stand out contributors to our road trash study ranked by single numbers and percentages of total trash are:

AB InBev: 98 (9%)

Generic Cups and Bottles: 83 (8%)

Bags, Plastic and Paper: 77 (7%)

Paper Towels and Napkins: 72 (7%)

Miller/Coor’s: 44 (4%)

Pepsico: 37 (3%)

Modelo: 33 (3%)

Coca-Cola: 33 (3%)

Seven-Eleven: 33 (3%)

Car Parts: 22 (2%)

2021 marked the second year in which COVID-19 and other societal changes could have been expected to influence roadside trash. One newcomer to the scene has been discarded surgical masks (10) and disposable gloves (5). There has been some change in the rankings of producers. McDonald’s seems to have fallen off the top ten. Seven-Eleven has maintained its relative position. Beer, especially “light beers,” namely Coor’s Light and Bud Light, are popular. Modelo and AB InBev and Miller / Coor’s occupy three places in the top ten. Miscellaneous trash without legible labels accounts for 37% of the total. 

The total trash items for 2021 were 1106. The average for the preceding nineteen years is 1063. Therefore, 2021 was a bit more than average. In contrast, 2020 at 847 items was below average. Our biggest recent year was 2018, with 1377 pieces. These totals show no trend but how intractable the problem of roadside trash is. As with any complex problem, such as global warming or world peace, the solution depends on multilayered action by all the principal actors. Actions deemed essential are the following: individual consciousness-raising, corporate responsibility, individual and state participation, recycling, enforcement of existing laws, and the desired goal of litter-free country roads. To paraphrase Steven Dubner of NPR (National Public Radio), “Take care of your road, and, if you can, take care of somebody else’s road too!”

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