Road Trash

“The eagle has landed.” Everyone knows those famous word as the world held its breath watching the moon landing of July 20, 1969. This Friday will the 49th anniversary of Apollo 11 with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Eagle lander. I was five at the time, but I do remember all us gathered around the TV watching the landing. TV was exciting to me, bringing a world of science, imagination and blending the two in science fiction. Science Fiction on TV was lean (it still is today) but every chance I could get, I would watch Star Trek, Twilight Zone Lost in Space, and the Outer Limits. This is going to be a weird segue, but I remember the big push for “Keep America Beautiful” campaign of 1971. These commercials were everywhere and of course the infamous commercial of Iron Eyes Cody, better known as the Crying Indian when trash is thrown at his feet by a passing car.

At the end of my work travels, we had a family road trip to spend five days in San Diego. The nice thing about Tucson, is it is only about 5 ½ hours away. The down side to this trip was, it was cut short and I had to return after one day in San Diego. More of this work stuff getting in the way of some time to relax. Between work and vacation, I’ve put some serious miles on the road. Over the course of one month, it was about 3,000 miles. And that does not include the air miles to fly to a couple of destinations. 

With that many miles on the road, one thing I noticed was road trash. As an architect, I strive to bring my building design into the 21st century. With that, I do embrace sustainable design. I try to utilize all of the tools, including working with the contractor. Beyond my design, I try to do my part, all the way to recycling as much as possible at home. However, let’s get back to road trash.

Anyone over the age of 50 probably remembers the “Keep America Beautiful” commercials of the 70’s with Iron Eyes Cody standing at the side of the road and a passing cars throws a bag of trash at his feet. Fast forward some 45 years later and I believe most people don’t carelessly throw out entire bags of trash, there is still a consistent trail of trash along the freeway. It just does not seem to end; my last trip was about 650 miles to the Hopi Indian Reservation. North on I-10 to I-17 then plenty of back roads after Flagstaff. The biggest item I noticed along the side of the road was the Jumbo Styrofoam soda cup (depending on where you live, it is a Soft Drink, Pop, Coke or the catch all Soda Pop cup). Followed by the plastic bottle and food wrappers. 

What this tells me is once we are done eating or drinking (more drinking) is there are still those people that don’t know what to do with the trash. I typically save a plastic grocery bag and place these items in it until I reach a rest stop or McDonald’s to throw it away. So why the need for others to toss it along the side of the road? Are they figuring that a work group in orange jump suits is going to clean up after them? At the end of the day, I believe the more we take responsibility for our own actions and don’t blame others or circumstances we make the world a little better place.

This blog ended on a little bit of a rant, without any real solutions. However, I would enjoy some dialog in the comments below what others think of this and how it can be taken to the next level and remove that last 5% of road trash. Finally, if you want to learn more about “Keep America Beautiful”, yes it is still going on visit 

…and now for something completely different.
A sneeze travels about 100 miles per hour according to WebMD. Mythbusters clocked theirs at 39 MPH.


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Saturday, 13 July 2024