Mike Thornberry

This week I am visiting an issue that every Grove resident should be concerned about and share a portion of responsibility to correct.  

I am talking about littering and the impact it has on this area.

We relocated to Grove in June of 2007.

When we observed the countryside for the first time it was with an appreciation of how green everything was. We were impressed by the gorgeous views around the lake, and the spectacular sunsets across the water.

We quickly discovered that the community here is made up of the friendliest people we have ever met in any of the places where we have lived. Everyone has been very gracious in making us feel welcome.

Because we came from Texas, we were accustomed to a standard green season of about two weeks  in May.  The daily concern after that period was not how beautiful the sunset was, but when the sun would finally set so the temperature would cool down. For that and several other reasons, we were excited about the prospect of living in this corner of Oklahoma.

We are still excited about living here. However, I am somewhat baffled and saddened that so many roadways, recreation areas, and parking lots are so unsightly with litter. What we offer to the world should be a “pristine area to the max.”

The other day while I was at a mall in another community, I overheard a young woman talking to a friend about how terrible her husband was because he always managed to get the bathroom mirror wet when he shaved. To me, the issue seemed rather trivial, yet it appeared to be a serious problem in their relationship. While I am certainly no marriage counselor, it struck me that perhaps the young woman had it wrong.

It seems that the problem was not that her husband got the mirror wet, but that he did not clean the mirror and restore it to its original condition. Here I must also point out that the husband was wrong in either case. It is a “marriage fact of life” that the man is always wrong. Come on guys, help me out here.

I know it may be a big leap, but I correlated the plight of that young woman to the plight we all share due to littering.  It is not the fact that we make a mess at recreational areas that presents the problem. It is, however, a problem when we do not take the time to clean up after ourselves and leave an area as clean or cleaner than it was when we arrived.

I view littered roadways and parking areas in much the same way. While they may get littered in a different manner (litter is litter), there is never an appropriate situation in which roadways or parking lots should be littered.

A woman remarked to me the other day that littering on Cherokee and Mission is at a critical state. Besides the normal road trash, she indicated that you could see mattresses, shower stalls, carcasses, etc. all along those two roads. While I am not familiar with that area, it is amazing to me that people would do such a thing and care so little as to actually use roadways or parking lots as dumping sites.

I recently drove around the Grove area and marked off three random one-half mile stretches to get a perspective on littering. The first stretch contained 29 plastic bags, 4 cardboard boxes, one large black bag full of trash, various and sundry types of paper and wrappers, and two old tires that had been discarded. The second stretch of highway contained 16 plastic bags, plastic bottles, numerous cups, 1 cardboard box, as well as the normal compliment of paper and wrappers. The third stretch contained 12 plastic bags, an old discarded chair, a large piece of carpet, one tire, lots of paper, and two skunk carcasses. All of the above litter was just what I could see from the car.

Perhaps the aroma from the skunk carcasses best sums up the gross disregard many have for where we call home.

Litter is costly. It affects the economy, the environment, and the quality of life. Millions of dollars are spent throughout the country each year to clean up littered areas, such as those mentioned above.

We live in a wonderful part of the world and we should be proud to invite others to visit and live here, but it would certainly have a greater impact if we accepted our share of responsibility to spruce up a little.

There is a commercial on television that says, “The best way to have an impact on the environment, is to have as little impact as possible.”

Litter is not cool.

My “pet peeve” for the week is any motorist who throws cigarettes out of a vehicle with no regard as to where they might go or what they might set on fire.

Mr. T out