At least that is what a lot of people assume as they pollute the earth out of sheer laziness or for personal gain. I was commuting to work the other day and was fascinated by the car directly in front of me. The driver had a cigarette in their left hand and had it outside the window as they were driving down the street. At intervals they brought their hand inside the vehicle to take a puff off the cigarette and then directed their head towards the open window so they could exhale the smoke outside the car. The unfortunate person in the car next to this smoker got the privilege of inhaling second hand smoke at every stop light. As I proceeded down the road the smoker would flick his ashes of the cigarette and continued the process of puffing and exhaling. Then without hesitation the smoker flicked the remains of the cigarette onto the pavement at a stop light and continued their commute when the light turned green. I continued my commute arriving at my office and parked my car in the lot. Getting out of my car I had to step over a pile of ashes and cigarette butts that someone had dumped from their ash tray. I thought to myself, “What are these people thinking … that the world is their ash tray?”
I shouldn’t be surprised as I’ve seen it all over the years I’ve spent in the property management business. From the people who clean the trash out of their garage and yard only to be dumped next to a dumpster on one of our commercial properties to the business owner whose environmental waste is placed in barrels and is rolled off the back of their truck into our parking during the middle of the night. It is their waste but they are making it my
problem. All of these incidents are illegal dumping, a nightmare for the environment and to the property owner who has to deal with it.
I have found there are few solutions that will eliminate illegal dumping but some that will reduce the amount which occurs. The primary response to illegal dumping is to place signs on the property to give notice to the offenders that they are breaking the law. The sign should indicate the section number of the ordinance so that violators will know there is authority behind the warning. Signage will not deter the criminal element who routinely break laws but it will deter the average citizen who is oblivious to the infraction they are about to make. The next step is to take photos of illegally dumped items and file a report with the police department. While you shouldn’t expect the police department to respond to your report it does document the illegal activity. With multiple reports in hand you can now call your district council person and request a meeting to discuss the problem. This meeting will result in support from your council person and the promise that they will request the police department step up efforts to apprehend violators. As a final and last resort the property owner could install surveillance cameras to record the license plate number of vehicles used in the illegal dumping.
While the suggestions can help somewhat with reducing illegal dumping there is nothing that will work as well as government educating the general public. By getting people to understand that the world isn’t their trash can.