Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Nature Bulletin No. 533-A   June 8, 1974
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
George W. Dunne, President
Roland F. Eisenbeis, Supt. of Conservation

Are you a litterbug? Or do you have more sense and better outdoor manners? That is a word coined as a scornful name for people who, wherever they go, leave a trail of trash behind them. Litter is scattered rubbish. A litterbug is a person who scatters it. A better definition was furnished by the sixth-grader who said: "A litterbug is a messy two- legged animal that travels around the country turning it into a dump and spoiling it for other people. .

We have magnificent parks and forests established for the recreation, education and pleasure of all of us. We pay taxes which provide the millions of dollars spent annually to maintain them. It is a crime and a national disgrace that so much of that money, more and more every year, must be expended on the gathering and disposing of unsightly refuse strewn about by litterbugs. Otherwise that money -- approximately 50 million dollars -- might be used to improve and expand those recreational areas so that more people could enjoy them.

In your Cook County Forest Preserves there are 180 major picnic centers, 50 small roadside areas for family picnics, and about 700 massive tables permanently installed along the highway borders for people who want to be alone. Steel barrels are provided for the disposal of garbage and trash but, after every Sunday and holiday during the picnic season, about 250 men must devote two days or more to picking up and hauling away tons and tons of refuse. Even at the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center there is a litter problem created by thoughtless users of its trails, and the naturalists sometimes wonder if facial tissue is becoming our national flower.

Litterbugs also create unsightly messes along the streets and highways. From automobiles and busses they carelessly toss out cigarettes and matches which often start disastrous fires, candy and chewing gum wrappers, cleansing tissues, newspapers, beer cans, bottles, and paper or plastic containers of all kinds. Some even bring garbage and junk which they stealthily dump on a roadside. It costs the Cook County Highway Department over $85,000 a year to remove the litter along 650 miles of roads. Although 44 other states have anti-litter laws, some of them providing stiff fines and jail sentences or suspension of a driver's license for persons convicted, more than 300 million dollars was spent in gathering and disposing of refuse along the nation's highways.

Litterbugging can be stopped if you and I and every American recognizes his or her personal responsibility for keeping our country clean and religiously observes the following suggestions.


1. Dispose of your trash in a proper receptacle -- always.
2. Carry a litterbag in your car, and a big one on picnics.
3. Get your family and friends to join the fight against litter.
4. Enlist your school in an anti-litter campaign.

Remember what Abraham Lincoln said: "I like to see a man proud of the place he lives in; I like to see a man live in it so his place will be proud of him."

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