Archived Story

Eliminating trash takes more than cans

Published 12:00am Sunday, July 1, 2012

Nothing says summer vacation like sun, sand, staying cool, swimming pools and … stacks of garbage?

That was the way it went recently as my wife and I took our two daughters, 2 and 4 years old, to do a little exploring of the great state of Ohio. We took a family vacation at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie in the northern part of the state.

The weather was beautiful. The water was warm. The scenery was breathtaking. All in all, my family had a great time.

But one thing really surprised me: The sheer volume of trash left on the sandy beaches and in the parking lots of this public area that offers free recreational opportunities.

I have always been disappointed and dumbfounded at the carelessness and lack of respect some people show for Mother Nature and the world in which we live.

Now, I’m not a tree-hugging environmentalist — although there is nothing wrong with that — but I do expect some serene beauty when in the great outdoors.

Even early in the morning the beach areas were littered with garbage from those who had enjoyed the sand a day before.

And I’m not talking about a piece of paper here or there. There were dozens of pop bottles. Countless fast food bags and boxes. Plastic bags. Cardboard. Old beach toys. And just general refuse.

It was very disappointing to me that some people who would come to the state park to enjoy the beautiful, natural environment show such little consideration for keeping it that way.

My 4-year-old even gets it.

“It’s not very nice to litter, Daddy,” she said as we picked up some of the garbage in our immediate area.

Then I looked around a little closer. Something caught my attention and raised an even more perplexing question: Where were all the garbage cans?

I looked all around the beach, the parking lot and the roads and didn’t see a single one.

That certainly is no excuse to litter, but it also explains why the problem may have gotten so out of control.

Then I saw a park employee diligently walking along the shoreline and through the parking lots filling 50 gallon trashcan after trashcan with all the waste that had been left behind.

Later, I asked a different employee what this was all about.

His sly smile told me it was going to be a funny story, but maybe not so “ha ha” funny.

“Well, we used to have trash cans,” he said. “It required a couple people to spend all day, every day going around emptying them. Then, as a way to save time, someone decided we should get rid of them and just have large dumpsters located periodically along the parking area.”

As he said this, I was looking around. I didn’t see any dumpsters either.

“Then, as a way to save money, someone decided we could just get rid of the dumpsters,” he continued with somewhat of an exasperated sigh.

Leave it to the government to make this type of decision.

So that’s the story of why there was far too much trash and far too few trash cans at the state park. Despite it all, Maumee Bay is still a beautiful place to visit and the employees work hard to clean it up as quickly as they can.

Hopefully one day we will, as a society, learn a lesson to start taking care of our natural resources.

Here in Lawrence County, we are blessed with organizations like the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste Management District, Ironton In Bloom, Operation TLC and other civic groups that do the best they can to help keep our region beautiful and trash free.

Imagine our summer vacations and trips to the beach if we would all start cleaning up our own messes and taking care of our planet.

That would be really cool in a whole other way.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.

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  • Poor Richard

    Good article, Mr. Caldwell and if you take a look at some of the Lawrence County fast food places, you will find few trash cans as well.

    Lets face it, there are redneck hillbilly trash heads throughout the country but they are concentrated in certain areas of every state. Southern Ohio has an abundance, in my opinion, due to our proximity to WV and eastern KY. The only really bad area of WV is south of I64 (next to us), the area north of I64 is very nice, of course the further north you travel in WV the more people from PA and Washington DC you will find and they don’t tolerate trash heads very well.

    Our area doesn’t even compare though to Detroit for instance, a ghastly place, it would take an army five years or more to pick up all the garbage in that city. Of course, the loop around Columbus is nasty too and Cleveland, well, the small towns outside of Cleveland are nice and very clean.

    I’ve found at the NC beach where I go we mostly have houses, condos and private homes, no hotels, but unfortunately a public beach is next to the neighborhood. Someone has to pick up trash daily left on and around the public beach, otherwise, it’s clean.

    I have no tolerance for trash heads, I consider them filthy, lazy creatures that really do not deserve to use our public places, it would be great if they were all banned!

    (Report comment)

  • tiger534

    Yes we have very smart so called Southern Ohio hillbillies! My hope is that these are the ones to educate those that come mostly from out of state and litter our national forests and roadsides. It is a shame to go around Lake Vesurisus and see all the litter left by those that use the trails, pool area and boardwalk.

    (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    Sad thing is that people don’t take their trash home with them.

    (Report comment)

  • bigkahuna

    It appears that the Southern Ohio hillbillies are smarter than the big shots up north.

    (Report comment)

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