Give a hoot!

By Nancy Black

It was so 1970s. A man was stopped at the traffic light at Northwest Hwy and Buckner Blvd. I was two cars behind him. We were in the left-hand turn lane waiting to head south toward White Rock Lake. I watched as he stretched his arm out of his car’s window with a plastic bottle of water. Then he dropped it on the ground. On purpose!

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Did he really just litter, so blatantly, in front of all these cars and people? 

“Oh, I don’t think so, Mister!” I said out loud, though no one could hear me. How dare he! Not only did he litter, but he did it on the section of Northwest Highway that White Rock Lake Weekly serves to protect. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the newspaper’s designated area of trash guardianship is the two miles of Northwest Hwy. between Buckner Blvd. and Jupiter Rd. So, not only was this litterer messing with Texas, but he was also messing with ME!

Doesn’t he know how hard the devoted volunteers of For the Love of the Lake and local TDOT Adopt-a-Highway companies work to keep the lake and its surrounding areas clean? Obviously not. 

It reminded me of the old television commercial from the 70s with Chief Iron Eyes Cody. The one-minute spot was called the “Crying Indian” and showed the Chief canoeing and walking through nature but surrounded by trash. In part, he says:

“Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. And some people don’t.” 

Then the Chief turns to the camera with a tear rolling down his face and says: “People start pollution. People can stop it.”

Had the light not changed, and the cars around me not started moving, I probably would have jumped out of my car, run up to his and given him a piece of my mind while throwing the water bottle back into his car. Then, you all would probably be attending my funeral. I can see the headline now, “Editor killed in road rage incident.” 

My children, who know me so well, would say during my eulogy, “We always told her not to confront people for their bad actions, but she wouldn’t listen. She just had to tell them not to litter. But it’s because she wanted to make the world be a better place.”

Each and every one of us CAN help make the world a better place. It doesn’t take much. 

Minimize waste, including taking reusable bags with you to the store. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Separate your household trash so you can recycle as much as possible. Of course, there’s more, but that’s a start. And, obviously, don’t throw trash out your car window!

Now, I’m reminded of another popular anti-litter campaign from my youth, this time with an owl as the spokesperson (spokesbird?): “Give a hoot. Don’t pollute.”