Growing up in the '90s, I was always taught to throw garbage in the trash can and wait on the solid waste department to pick it up. Not having your garbage picked up wasn't even an option in my mind.
There was some trash along the roadways then, but fast-forward 30 years and there's not just the occasional soda bottle here and there — the trash is piling up two or three layers thick, with some spots on the roadsides even deeper, in other people's waste.
It is very encouraging to me that Walker County commissioners are having an open discussion about the problem and will soon vote on mandatory garbage service.
Here's the bottom line, if you are a human being, you have garbage. I've seen many people on Facebook say they go to the landfill to dispose of their trash, but obviously, not everybody is.
Some of the most ludicrous responses on Facebook to the proposed garbage service have been: "I will not pay for it, don't need it," and "if they make it mandatory these folks will suffer even more."
Let's explore the first comment. If you don't pay for a mandatory service, you will be fined and possibly face jail time. Also, to say you don't need garbage service is absolutely false, unless you are truly going to the landfill to take your trash every week.
On the second statement, we're all suffering from garbage being on the sides of our roads. We smell it, and it paints the county in a bad light. It hurts retail prospects. It's harmful to animals who may be looking for food. It pollutes the environment. The negative impacts are endless.
Secondly, as the Daily Mountain Eagle's Ed Howell pointed out in his recent column, those in dire financial situations and seniors would be helped to bear the cost if the service were to become mandatory.
One Facebook user did make a great point when they said some people will complain about the possibility of paying for garbage service, but have no problem using their money to buy cigarettes and alcohol, which are often spotted thrown out along the roadways.
I can't understand how people can be so selfish and inconsiderate by littering, and some people doing it have garbage picked up at their homes and just choose to drop trash when they're done with it. It's an almost animalistic behavior, because when animals have the urge to "go," they do so. It's no different than people just throwing their waste out of a car window when they feel like it.
I was driving the other day, and a car slowed down in front of me to pull off the road. I safely went around the vehicle, and in my rearview mirror I saw the occupants throwing out their trash. The side of the road is not your garbage can, and it's nobody's responsibility to clean up after you. Even our prisoners could be doing something more constructive than pacing up and down our roadways with garbage bags.
It's also not my dog's job to pick up your trash. I'll never forgot when my dog brought a sealed plastic bag to our front porch that had a dirty diaper inside. As a person who actually pays for their garbage to be picked up, I had to take that nasty package to our garbage can.
I also want to point out in Howell's column that he said out of the county's 17,000 residents, only 7,000 utilize garbage services. Let that sink in for a moment. Not even half of county residents have trash picked up at their homes. Do you think those other 10,000 residents are making a trip to the landfill each week? No. Are they a human being who buys groceries and purchases consumer products that will be used and need disposed of properly? Absolutely.
The cost for garbage pickup through Walker County Solid Waste averages out to $3.25 each week — that's $13 each month. That's a small cost compared to the much larger impact all of this waste is having on our environment. Also, the people who are complaining on Facebook about not having enough money to pay $3.25 each week somehow have the money to either have a smartphone or computer with Internet service to have access to Facebook. That money could be used to have their garbage picked up.
Stop making excuses. It's sad when people in our own county are throwing out more crap than Big Sky Environmental has had parked at a rail yard in Parrish.
Please, Walker County Commission, do the right thing and hold those accountable who are destroying our environment and our county.