Let's help keep great outdoors tidy

Monday, April 14, 2003

It's time to get outdoors. Time to exercise. Time to sharpen up the mower blade, think about those summertime fixup projects and prepare to endure some sunshine.

Those of us who exercise year-round will find ourselves going outside to walk, run or ride our bicycles, instead of putting in laps at the YMCA, healthclub or in our basement.

Those of us who are less than faithful about burning calories may find inspiration in the blue skies and fine weather finding its way onto the Golden Plains.

We may even tramp through the woods in search of the crafty morel mushroom -- but don't try it unless you have an expert in identifying the wild delicacy along.

The summer-like weather predicted for this weekend will see many of us putting in the miles.

Unfortunately, there is a down side to all of this outdoor activity, but it's not something we are helpless to correct.

Walking along the streets and roads of Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, we may be offended to find signs of our irresponsible brethren passing that way as well.

It's not uncommon to see gum wrappers, beer bottles and cast-off containers of all types littering the roadway, gutter and sidewalk. Losing scratch-off tickets, and cigarette wrappers seem common as well -- although some of us make a point of collecting the smoke-wrappers which can be turned in for products.

It's unfortunate that all of us don't make a practice of carrying a trash container in our cars, opting instead to make the landscape a little less beautiful. How hard would it be to carry that gum wrapper home so it could be disposed of properly?

And that fast-food packaging can be disposed of just as easily back in the parking lot of the store where it was purchased as out in the countryside.

The Nebraska Department of Roads is working with civic organizations to clean up road ditches, and that's a noble and worthwhile effort.

But it's too bad it's even necessary.

Let's all make a little effort to pick up trash when we see it, and make sure that we and our families do nothing to contribute to the clutter. That way, our next stroll in the sunshine can be a time of renewal, not a trip through an outdoor garbage can.

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