Each morning around 7:30, I meet my walking buddies for our daily jaunt around Salters and a bit of stimulating conversation. At some point the train, may come through, and depending on who is engineer of the day, we may get an extra hello whistle or a wave. Along the way we encounter many friends heading to work, and everyone speaks with a toot of the horn. Of course, before we finish a local dog or two may join us, it’s just a perfect way to begin the day. Once a week, someone will bring a bag and picking up litter becomes part of the exercise routine. Usually there is not too much to pick up on our usual route but when we do find trash, we discuss in great detail the kind of person who throws out trash in our clean little town. Other times if we find a bag along the road, we take it as a sign to pick up litter and we do. Last week, it was not a day to pick up, but we found a bag with the remains of someone’s meal including napkins soft drink can and a Styrofoam food container. Picking up the bag one of the walkers remarked in a sarcastic manner; “what a considerate litterer putting their trash in one container before throwing it out the car window.”
It never ceases to amaze me why anyone would litter. To begin with, it’s against the law. The South Carolina law sites that a person can be fined $25- $100, up to 30 days in jail and eight hours of community service for littering less than 15 pounds of trash. And yes, less than 15 pounds is just what we found on our walk. Larger fines, more jail time, and community service can be the result of dumping more than 25pounds, while Illegal dumping of 100 pounds can result in fines of $1,000 and up to a year in jail. Besides just littering, unsecured loads of trucks and trailers where trash and debris fall off can also lead to fines and cleanups. It’s a common sight in this community to see trash flying out the back of trucks onto the roadside. In fact, I have followed county and private trash trucks heading toward the land fill with paper blowing out along Highway 52. One day I counted over 10 large pieces of trash blowing in the wind out of a County Trash Truck. But the law is not the only issue. Sadly, too many of our littered roadsides offer an appalling impression of our community to visitors and travelers. If I judge other counties by the amount of litter along the roadside, surely there are many folks who evaluate the people of Williamsburg by the trash found on local roads. Litter in our county discourages me, but then there is the story of Cheetos Dad. Earlier this summer, Bunny and I were sitting on the beach watching a precious little boy play in the sand. He was friendly and toddled over to our chairs for a visit. Soon he grew tired of us and wandered back to his mom where she picked him up and gave him a small bag of Cheetos to snack on. It was not long before the afternoon breeze blew the bag out of the small boy’s hands, so mom took off down the beach holding the child running after the potential litter. Apparently, the wind and the weight of the child were too much for the mother and she eventually came back without the bag. For some this would be the end of the story, but immediately after mom told dad that she could not get the litter since the wind continued to toss the bag down the beach, he took off at a jog towards the pier and eventually came back with the little empty Cheetos Bag. Apparently, Cheetos Dad was determined his family would not litter the beautiful South Carolina Beach. Bunny and I were impressed, and Cheetos Dad became our hero.
I have been talking trash for 40 years, and still the litter problem continues to plague many local communities. And unfortunately, litter issues will continue to be a problem as long as we have the considerate and inconsiderate litterer in our midst. Ahh, but there is always a Silver Lining and for today, its Cheetos Dad. This unassuming man was not trying to impress anyone or get any credit for picking up litter, rather he was just doing what he thought was the right thing to do. For the record, there are many Cheetos dads and moms in our community running after litter every day. Who knows one of them might just become someone’s hero and transform a considerate litterer into a Cheetos Dad or Mom? Well, one can always hope.
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