We were all outside the other day, enjoying the lovely weather. (Which, by the way, has all went downhill. It dropped from 70 degrees yesterday evening to 31 degrees this morning. Blast.) Alice was playing on a blanket on the grass, and I sprawled on the blanket as well, trying to pin the corners down so it wouldn’t wrap her up because of the strong winds. Suddenly a plastic bag floats past my head and got stuck in the fence.

At my request, Wesley happily pulls the bag out of the fence and we take it inside to the recycling bins. No more than two minutes later, a cheeseburger wrapper meanders into the yard, flitting here and there on the breeze. My little treehugger-in-training takes off after it, and we take it to the trashcans.

Now, I know it was a windy day, but where did all this trash COME from? I see it everywhere in my otherwise neat little town. I know sometimes trash gets out by accident: a dog tips over a garbage can in the night, the wind sucks a receipt out of your car window…but that couldn’t possibly account for all the trash just lying around on the ground.

I know some people don’t think twice about tossing a paper cup or candy bar wrapper out of the window as they drive down the road. When I’m following someone down the highway and see this, it makes me positively see red. I feel like ramming them, but I try to refrain. (Ramming someone with your car never solved any problems.) Is it really so hard to keep your wrappers and other trash inside your car until you stop and can toss them in a trashcan?

We live just down the street from the police station. Every time I walk past the building I want to go in and complain. Cigarette butts completely cover the ground right outside their door. The ironic thing? There is a giant ashtray not two feet away. I feel like the police officers should set a better example. Maybe I will go and complain next time.

I just don’t get it. I go outside because I want to enjoy nature. When I’m hiking through the woods, I want to pretend I’m a pioneer discovering this land for the first time. I want to see the trees, flowers, rocks, birds…I don’t want to see an empty cigarette pack and an old beer can.

I’m trying to raise my kids to pick up trash when they find it on the ground. It may not be our job, but I feel like it’s our duty.