Is it just me?

You probably do not know me, but you may have noticed me. If you drive along Powder Branch Road or Milligan Hwy on Sunday between 10:00 AM and 1:00 PM you may see me in my yellow safety vest and ball cap, carrying a rake and a garbage bag.  I am that guy, and my name is Don. If you see me toot your horn and I will raise my rake in recognition of your support. So, what am I doing and why? Well, it really is simple, I like the outdoors and I like to take long walks. I have only lived in the area for three years and have not taken the opportunity to travel to one of the great trails in the area by myself.

I discovered that walking Powder Branch Road and Milligan Hwy fulfilled my desire to walk, but certainly did not fulfill my desire to do it in Nature. You may wonder why I said this, there are woods and creeks and the great Tweetsie Trail right there for my enjoyment. Okay, I will admit it I have a problem. Everywhere I walk I cannot help but see the trash. I know it is just me because when I am with others, they do not seem to even notice it.

So, my big idea was to walk the same path every Sunday with my yellow safety vest, garbage bag and rake and pick up the trash along the way. Problem solved right? Wrong, after three years and over 300 bags of trash, I have found that the roads only stay clean for about 10 hours. You say no way and I say way. Usually by Monday morning the trash is back.  

Over the past three years I have grown familiar with the contents of the trash and can tell you who is throwing it out their windows onto the street. Approximately half the trash is comprised of fast food packaging, cups, straws, soda cans and energy drink containers. I noticed that this trash is almost seasonal. It increases when the local High School is in session and decreases when the High School is out. Conclusion, local High School kids are throwing a lot of trash on the roads.

Alcohol containers and cigarette butts make up the next highest amount of trash. The question I ask myself is, why are so many people drinking and driving and throwing trash out their windows onto the road. The answer is in the question, if you are irresponsible enough to be drinking and driving then you really are not concerned about throwing your trash out the window.

The trash that makes up the next largest amount fortunately only happens four or five times a year. Unfortunately, this kind of trash is probably the hardest to remove. This trash is what I call dumping. Tires, construction debris, chairs, mattresses, and construction materials. I have seen it all believe me. Fortunately, I have gotten to know some of our City and County’s finest citizens and officials. I call on them and like superheroes, they send out workers to pick the dumped items up. Thank you to all, you know who you are. So next time you are out driving around and decide to throw your trash onto the road, do not do it. Next time you have materials that do not belong in the trash, take it to the dump. It does not take any longer than dumping it and does not cost that much. Until then, I guess I have found a brand-new form of exercise. Go out and Trashercise.