Life Notes: Don’t Let Magic Words Disappear
by Robert “Bob” Flournoy, Ph.D.

I have recently noticed more “community awareness” about litter. The Police Jury has been now more than ever very concerned. In the recent sheriff race our current sheriff said he would enforce littering laws as one of his campaign promises. It is my opinion that littering has not decreased but increased.

We buy coffee at a fast food restaurant and it comes in a Styrofoam cup. It goes in the trash when the coffee is gone. The same holds true for hamburgers, French fries, bottled water, soft drinks, and other fast foods. Litter is everywhere — on every road, street, ditch because some people are too lazy to deposit the container in the proper receptacle.

Our roads look like a landfill at times. The state told us several years it costs 40 cents to pick up one piece of trash. Look at the millions we waste on something that should not cost us to pick up.

What is the secret? I believe it is a two-fold problem.


More education was supposed to be the key several years ago but so far it has not worked.

I do not believe we should stop trying to teach young preschoolers the need to put trash in its place. Visit just about any school in our community and check out the playground after the kids have left the scene and the dust has settled. More than likely, you will see litter and trash all about. One lady in Shreveport was interviewed a few weeks ago about kids buying candy at her old time service station. She said it was fine but the wrappers have to be put in the trash can. She was emphatic about that fact. We need more adults requiring kids to put their trash in the proper place.


Lastly, the second problem is enforcement. We need our law enforcement agencies enforcing the present laws.

The penalties perhaps need to be increased because if people knew the large fine they faced this may be a deterrent to littering. If you hit someone in the pocket book with a hefty fine for throwing out a cigarette butt, I bet you we would see some clean street corners. It takes an average of 10 to 13 years for a cigarette to be broken down in our environment. Look at the trash dumped by folks in the parking lot next time you visit a grocery store.

This planet was not meant to be trashed. It can be and should be a beautiful place to reside and enjoy life.

Make your city council member aware of your concern for littering the next time you see him or her. They say the squeaky wheel gets with oil. Let’s see if that is true.

The Life Notes articles are written by staff of Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and are published in The Ruston Daily Leader.

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