Skip to main content

Murphy's Logic: Littering is a problem for citizens and officials

The origin of the word “litterbug” is uncertain, but it was likely first used in the late 1940s or 1950s as part of an American advertising or public service campaign. By the 1960s, when I was an impressionable child, the word was in common usage -- its meaning well known.  A litterbug was a person who “carelessly drops litter in a public place."

We all knew litterbugs were not good people.  

Throwing things out of car windows, leaving garbage behind on the ground or in the woods was anti-social, illegal behaviour and some of us young radicals didn’t hesitate to call out other kids and even adults as litterbugs. In hindsight, it seems to have had some effect. 

For many years, there was a lot less of it lying around. But now, it seems the litterbugs are invading the landscape, like the biblical plague of locusts.

A recent walk along the shore of a Nova Scotia provincial park revealed litter around every corner: paper, plastics, coffee cups, berry boxes, dog droppings in knotted bags and just the droppings. This was before the hurricane, by the way.

Much of what I found was sitting in the middle of charred campfire pits, encircled by stones. At one location on a sandy beach, there was a grocery cart full of garbage. The cart itself is technically both stolen property and litter.   

What I didn’t find along the way was a garbage can. Not one.

Signage around the park makes it clear that people are supposed to take their litter with them when they leave, which obviously many did not. Pet owners are told to pick up after their animals, which obviously, not all of them did. 

As for those campfire pits, well, they’re all supposedly not even allowed.

This was a Nova Scotia park but litter is a problem in many public places. Littering is selfish and lazy. It’s just common sense and common decency that people should pick up after themselves. However, providing well-placed garbage receptacles is also sensible and decent. 

It’s time for both litterbugs and public officials to clean up their acts. 

And some enforcement and a few fines wouldn’t hurt either. Top Stories

Stay Connected