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Ed Ericson Says: Stop Litterin’!

May 21, 2012
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"One Piece," two hands: Nick Mosby throws the new sign of desperate times

Citing the alleged “extra $10 million” Baltimore spends each year cleaning trash off the streets and skimming the harbor, freshman Councilmember Nick Mosby sends this  sentiment—with a green background, no less—via e-mail:

Councilman Nick J. Mosby and Blue Water Baltimore have partnered to introduce a viable solution, the “One Piece” Litter Campaign. “What we are asking is simple,” says Councilman Mosby. “If every citizen in Baltimore picked up just one piece of trash a day, and disposed of it properly, the costs to our environment and our tax dollars could be dramatically reduced, and the benefit to our neighborhoods would be tremendous.”

Yeah, there’s a “viable solution” for sure. There’s even the inevitable Facebook page where you can post your photo throwing the “One Piece” (or is it “One Peace”?) hand signal.

But wait! Before we ask citizens to start picking up “One [more] Piece” of the shit that pigs all across the city just drop on the ground, why not a shout-out to the litterbugs in question, Bmore style? Why not just say to them: Stop fucking litterin’!

I can picture the video for this, with little old ladies sweeping their stoops, then giving the mean eye as the camera zooms in, pulling back their housecoats to reveal the chromium gat, and then just shaking their heads. Scenes with the crews of the neighborhood people who, every spring, voluntarily remove tons of debris from the streets. Pan them and get a threatening quote, a finger across the neck, from each one. Someone oughtta make that vid.

Baltimore is a filthpile because too many people in this town will not walk 20 feet to throw their Styrofoam food containers in a trash can, preferring to simply let the wind take it. But it’s also a place where “trash tickets” seemingly accrue exclusively to home-owning residents in stable neighborhoods, while huge backyard dump sites in vacant areas go uncited for years. It’s the kind of place where you’ll get a parking ticket every week on “street sweep” day on roads that get street-swept maybe twice a year.

So telling the people who already don’t litter, who already pay their parking tickets, trash fines, and taxes, to pick up “One Piece” of some uncivilized shitbird’s litter would seem a stretch. Remember “Pitch in!” and “Give a hoot—don’t pollute?” Those campaigns were directed at least as much at the toxic meatwastes who littered as their volunteer street maids.

England at least calls littering “anti-social behavior,” instead of pretending that soda bottles and paper bags spontaneously generate in the gutter.

And let’s not even talk about the city’s much-ignored plastic bag ordinance, or the fact that almost every state in New England has a bottle- and can-deposit system that has kept those items mostly out of the waste stream for 30 years or more. It has been said that such a bill is a “non-starter” here—’cause it would irritate the soda and booze lobbies.

But the piece de resistance of this campaign has got to be this.

Yes, that is a downloadable pdf of a certificate pledging you to pick up One Piece. Presumably it’s meant to be printed out, signed and . . .

Right. I don’t know either.

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