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
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.
HERE'S WHAT YOU CAN DO:
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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Update: June 2012