- by Anne Finlay-Stewart

This is not litter. No one tossed these things in the gutter as they strolled down the 10th Street hill, unwrapping a gift or making coffee in a Keurig or taking apart a pen to see how it worked.

Certainly no one was reminiscing about their trip to Colonial Williamsburg as they clicked though the Viewmaster (that would be dangerous whether walking or driving) and then slipped the reel back into its paper sleeve before tossing it out the car window.

So how does this eclectic collection – and a similar yet unique grouping every pick up – end up on our public property?

I call it “no man's land”, because if this were in front of your house, you'd likely pick it up and toss it in your own garbage. But when it is in the gutter or sidewalk, or in the grass or trees going up our hills, it belongs to no one. And if I did not have gloves or my trusty grabber, I wouldn't be picking it up either.

I once found four feet of medical tubing, and half a block further down 10th Street, a full oxygen mask that went with it. I couldn't help but hope the person who abandoned it had been miraculousy healed.

There have been many clothes, from hats and gloves to underwear, jeans and a staggering number of socks. All singles of course – are the ones missing from your laundry all runaways, destined for doom on a public roadway?

Packaging is common – once I found a carton from those huge rolls of toilet paper for commercial dispensers. Again, it was not likely lost where I found it. And a box from a new fishing lure – might have been littered – but then I found the lure, a 3 or 4 inch spoon, ten feet later. I kept it, if anyone needs one.

There's the occasional small change, dimes and quarters - nothing like the $50 bill that Martin found. But I did find an external battery pack that has come in very handy keeping my old phone charged long enough to finish this great Throughline Litter Myth podcast. (Spoiler alert: the "crying Indian" from the Keep America Beautiful commercial was Italian.)

The things I find make me think about more than how they got there. What was the significance of the 62 on the tag? How long ago did someone in Owen Sound go to Colonial Williamsburg that a Viewmaster reel was their souvenir of choice? What was the gift the bow was on? Is it true that there are already enough Keurig cups in landfill to go around the planet ten times?

Ah yes – and where does Bill Murdoch fit in? He was on the back of the 62 tag.







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