On the Trail: Getting trashed

Allyn Harvey

I saw the Indian with the tear yesterday. And given the garbage he saw me picking up alongside a trail near Carbondale, I can assure you he’s still crying.In the late 1970s there was a time when public service ads on the television focused heavily on the environment. Most of them were aimed at changing America’s behavior, attempting to turn us from a nation of polluters to a nation of people who picked up after themselves.One memorable example was Woodsy the Owl, whose little homilies included “Don’t be a dirty bird” and “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”Another was this one with the Indian, definitely an Indian with a capital “I”. My memory may not be all there on this one, but I recall that it showed him walking through the woods, amid garbage and pine needles. Then he was suddenly at a small lake next to a highway, looking across as the people in one of the cars flings a bag full of trash out on the shore, which looked like a landfill. The camera cuts back to the Indian, and there’s a tear coming from his eye. It was just about the most effective environmental ad ever, turning my generation (end of Baby Boom/Gen X) into a fairly conscientious, resource-minded bunch. I’m not saying we’re perfect, but face it, compared to the Baby Boomers and Gen Y we’re fairly eco-minded.There really isn’t a better way to ruin a hike for people than to leave your garbage all along the trail. Worse for me was the fact that I ended up carrying out two City Market plastic bags, and both were filled with dog crap. Luckily, we weren’t too far from the car, and once there I was able to find another bag for it all. I can appreciate the fact that whoever was walking their dog on that trail had the idea to pick up after their dog and probably intended to pick the bags up on their way back to their car. But the follow-through was definitely lacking.Good intentions can’t keep garbage from ruining our environment, only good actions can. Frankly, I’d rather step around your dog’s poop than be left holding the bag, full of it, so to speak. I bet our Indian friend would say the same.