Nashville is a beautiful city, but like most cities, it has a lot of waste. Look out the window while you're driving or better yet, take a walk through your neighborhood and you'll notice aluminum cans, candy wrappers, fast-food containers, cigarette butts and sometimes even a shoe or two lying around on the ground.
Go to any park or recreation area and there's paper plates, those plastic ring-things that hold cans together, bottles, and sometimes little bags of dog poo that dog walkers have thoughtfully scooped up, wrapped, and then left on the ground for the Manure Fairy to dispose of. If you walk along the Stones River Greenway trail, you'll notice fishing line festooning the trees. Thousands of people in thousands of cars cruise our highways, merrily tossing their old french-fry containers to the wind.
Picking up trash is unpleasant. Let's put that out there right now. Trash is smelly and germ-infested and endless; there's more of it every time you turn around. People shouldn't litter and if they do, then they should clean it up, right? Is other people's trash really your problem?
The answer is yes and no. Of course people shouldn't litter, but it's easier to walk from Nashville to Memphis than to get folks to change their habits. You can post signs and create public service announcements until you're blue in the face and the litterbugs will agree with you and then go out and do what they always do. The only reason to pick up trash yourself is because you can.
Try it sometime. The next time you're out in your neighborhood or in your favorite park, bring along trash bags, gloves, a broom and dustpan and hand sanitizing gel. See how much trash you can pick up in the space of an hour.
Recycle the plastic bottles and aluminum cans. If you encounter hazardous waste, such as old batteries, drug paraphernalia, or roadkill, call the Nashville Public Works department and ask them to dispose of it. Also, don't add to the problem yourself! Keep a litter bag in your car and remember to use available public trash receptacles.
Finally, think about joining volunteer programs like Tennessee Adopt-a-Highway, MTA Nashville's Adopt-a-Stop, and Keep Tennessee Beautiful. If you're committed to green living, cleaning up your environment can be a wonderfully fulfilling activity! You're helping to make a place you love even better. Because you can.