On my way home from work today, I had an encounter with one of the Eco-Villains from Captain Planet and the Planeteers.
I am an environmentally conscientious person. I don’t go crazy but I do recycle and try to decrease how much I waste. (I also have a grudge against SUVs but I’m not particularly preachy about it and my grudge runs deeper than just the environmental impact of them.) In the Boy Scouts, I used to take part in service projects to help the environment, too. Now, I don’t expect people to necessarily do anything pro-active to help the environment, people can do what they want with their free time. It does irritate me when people refuse to recycle, mostly because it’s so easy to do. A lot of bigger cities even have recycling bins lined up next to their trash receptacles. The one thing that will actually, really, completely tick me off, is when someone litters.
Littering is the laziest thing a person can do, next to laying in bed until they die. No matter what people’s beliefs on landfills or global warming are, having trash on the ground is disgusting. I think everyone can agree that clean streets and sidewalks are preferable over ones covered in plastic bags, soda cans, broken bottles, and newspapers. So today when I was walking behind a man on the sidewalk and I saw him throw an empty package of cigarettes on the ground, I was fuming. Then when he continued to throw more trash on the ground (the plastic packaging from a new package of cigarettes) I couldn’t take it anymore. I picked up the piece of plastic, said “Excuse me, I think you dropped this”, and put the piece of plastic back in his hands. I wasn’t really sure what reaction I was going to get but I was shocked when he just burst out with a maniacal laugh. He just stood there laughing. Even after I left he was still laughing to himself. (In a very unexpected move, a second guy walked up to the first guy after me and started yelling at him for the same thing I was criticizing him for.)
I couldn’t believe that someone would react to this situation by laughing away the problem. It felt like it came straight out of a movie that was trying to hit me over the head with its message by making the bad guy the most impossible caricature of someone without a heart. I just hope that he “brags” about this incident to everyone he knows so that at least one person he interacts with regularly with will realize he is a worthless piece of trash. Though, they probably already know that about him.