Thursday, December 9, 2010

Litter picking is an All Season Sport - Mark Your Territory. South Burlington, Vermont

Survey says, 79% of owners give their dogs holiday or birthday presents.

The new South Burlington dog park

is not hard to find even if you miss the sign on the corner you will not miss the trail of litter in the nearby fields and along the road leading to the dog park. Litter left by people not dogs. Something unusual in the park really makes it stand out, for the dogs at least!

The community dog park next to the airport runway is about one acre enclosed by fencing with a double gate entry system. There are cleanup tools: covered garbage can, waste bags, and pooper scoop stations as well as seating with shade. The entrance sign list park hours and rules. There is also a real, presumably functioning shiny red fire hydrant inside the dog park.

Why locate a fire hydrant in a dog park? My guess is, because dogs like to mark their territory and fire hydrants are dog magnets in real dog life as well as in cartoons. With no buildings within hose range, one must assume the purpose of the shiny red hydrant is to draw dogs to a specific spot to mark their claim.

Some people leave their mark by choosing to indiscriminately drop or throw out litter. We fence in the dogs; maybe we could accommodate litterbugs the same way. Isolating and containing the litter drops might make cleanup easier to accomplish.

Dog owners are expected to clean up after their dogs. They apparently do, as the dog park is clean. Outside the park is another story. Some folks leave their mark as they drive to and from the dog park (as well as other areas in the city) by tossing garbage out the window of their car. Granted there are few public receptacles in the city greenbelt and no waste bag stations for people disposing cigarettes, fast food wrappers, drink containers and other trash. Looking for a clean and green place to walk and maybe sit at a picnic table-best bet may be with the dogs at the dog park.

Stake out a claim to your neighborhood or even the road leading to the dog park and make your mark on the environment by picking up a piece of litter every day. Let other people know that littering is not an acceptable behavior. Demonstrate your pride through frequent clean up actions that keep your sidewalks and city green spaces - green and clean. As a litter picker, you can establish yourself as a “culture of clean” promoter and diminish the tolerance of those who would mark their territory with waste.

If all else fails, maybe the city can install more fire hydrants, paint them green and set up covered garbage cans and ash receptacles nearby. Who knows, maybe the litterbugs just need a magnet to encourage them to dispose of trash in a proper place where we WANT them to mark their spot.

Happy Holidays to you, your family, and your pets.

Other holiday postings:
        Ø  MLK Day of Service: