This is not at all about the bike. Oh, you’re going to think it is, but it isn’t. It’s about riding around and seeing what people are doing to our area.

Let me explain. I ride a bicycle. A lot. Some might say too much. I stay off of busy streets and roads where I might impede traffic. I avoid the main roads in and out of town. Morganton. Old Niles Ferry. Montvale. I’ve only done the new part of Foothills Parkway on a weekday morning.

Instead, you’re more likely to find me on roads like Gillenwater, Chota, Allegheny Loop, Friendsville Road. Mitchell Mill. Roads where I don’t interact with cars much.

Sadly, here’s what I’m seeing — trash everywhere. My daily commute takes me down Big Springs Road. I live just beyond the Blount County Landfill so I expect to see a good amount of trash along that road. People don’t secure their trash like they should. It is supposed to be covered and most definitely should be secured so that it doesn’t fall out, and so the section of Big Springs Road from William Blount Drive to the turnoff to the landfill is always full of litter.

But it’s everywhere. Lots of fast food containers. Beer cans. It can be anything. There is a couch on the side of the road on South Union Grove Road that was obviously left there intentionally. I keep trying to remember to go pick it up. There was a mattress on Salem Loop Road for a while, but somebody got that one. I guess folks don’t want to pay the (quite modest) fee at the landfill. So they dump it in my backyard, so to speak.

I just don’t get it. Drive out in the country. Leave your trash on the side of the road for somebody else to take care of. Or your bed. Or your living room furniture.

I don’t get just tossing your empty fast food bag out the window either. I don’t think those blow out by accident. Beer cans? I covered this topic once before. Too often, that’s probably your teenager who doesn’t want to be seen putting empty beer cans in the trash can at the gas station and certainly can’t put them in the trash at home.

I mowed the road along the front of my subdivision a couple of weeks ago, and about all that did was reveal all the litter along the road. And that’s a section that I pick up regularly. It’s hard to categorize all that I found in that stretch of about 100 yards. A little of everything. And a fair amount of styrofoam.

A lot of trash will degrade with time. Apple cores. Banana peels. But styrofoam? That stuff lasts forever. It will be here long after you are. That broken umbrella? Just about as long.

There are two problems here. One is the trash that people leave on the side of the road. It’s obvious they just don’t care. The other problem is the amount of trash that we generate. It’s monstrous. Our landfill does a tremendous job but it will eventually fill up.

Part of the solution? Recycle, recycle, recycle. Look for biodegradable packaging. And take care of your trash. Put it where it goes. Take pride in our beautiful countryside.

Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Email to write to him.

(1) comment

Alice Beth

We pick up trash along our road front in Blount County. I find that the beer of choice of litterers is Bud Light, they eat a lot of fast food. There is one person, I think it is a man, who chews tobacco and spits it in empty Dasani bottles. If I could ID him, they would end up in front of his house, not mine.

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