Litter is everybody's problem

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fall is the time of the year that we experience leaves turning color, cooler weather and football events. Professional, collegiate, high school, and middle school football are all in full swing.

That is the good news. The bad news is that with each game come litter and trash in the stands, parking areas, streets and tailgating sites.

It is especially troublesome when area high schools continue the trend of sticking hundreds of Styrofoam cups in fencing to spell out cheers and messages for homecoming or big rivalry games. In many cases the areas are littered with the cups jarred loose by winds and vandals, and are seen blowing about the countryside for days afterward. Yes, it appears an effort is made to clean up the mess the next day or two, but too many of the unsightly, non-biodegradable cups make their escape and end up strictly as eye-sore litter.

It hardly seems appropriate that the sport that is supposed to reflect "sportsmanship" seems to bring out the worst in us. Take a look at these areas after the game is over and the fans have departed. It is not a scene that makes you proud.

Trash and litter is spread all over and the cost of cleaning falls back to the school or sponsoring organization. Let's get back to the basic virtue of "leaving the place better than you found it." Recycling also appears to be an "after the fact" effort. Litter prevention and increased recycling provide Iowans with both a challenge and an opportunity.

The challenge is to change behavior patterns; the opportunity is to reclaim recycled materials, along with a sense of pride.

Iowa State University in Ames long ago accepted this challenge with "Keep Iowa State Beautiful," an organization composed of - and supported by- faculty, campus staff, students and the athletic department.

Behavior at the games can pass on to the opposing team and fans, too. What a great hallmark. Not only do we have great teams, we model the idea of sportsmanship and show it by leaving the place in better condition than we found it.