Itry to keep my desk organized. There are my books to my left, my computer in the middle, and my lamp and notebook to the right. I like it that way being tidy just feels right.
Larie’s also a fan of tidy.
Larie McKeever is80yearsold. Everydayshe dons an orange safety vest, grabs a couple of trash bags, andtakes a three-mile walk along Golf Course Roadin Crystal Lake, Illinois. Along the way, she makes her neighborhood more beautiful by picking up litter and garbage.
I try to leave the house as soon as its light outside, Larie told the Northwest Herald. But if I open my door and its pouring down rain, I wont walk. Then again, if it starts raining while Im on my walk, I wont turn back.
Larie finds all kinds of things.
You’d be amazed at what people throw away. Some of it is pretty normal candy wrappers, for instance but Larie’sfound driver’s licenses and credit cards, too. She turns them in, of course. She also picks up aluminum cans, which are sold for recycling (the money goes to a local food pantry).
Her walks are even good for her heart.
Larie has a condition known as aortic stenosis. One of the valves out of her heart doesn’t work quite right. But the daily exercise is great for her.
Larie’s instinct for picking up trash has been with her for years, handed down from her father.
As she and her dad walked to his work everyday in Story City, Iowa, they’d pick up any litter they’d come across.
“Ithink about my dad a lot when I’m walking,”Larie told the Northwest Herald. “Ithink about how proud he would be that I’m still picking up litter, all these years later.”
Now, years later, this particularwalk started as Lariegoing to meether granddaughter Kate’s middle-school bus.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a million of her?
Because we could certainly use them.If you’re a neat freak like me, you might not want to read this next sentence.
According to Keep America Beautiful, the average mile of roadway in the United States has over 6,500 pieces of litter on it.
That’s more than onepiece perfoot! Alltogether, that adds up to more than 50 billionstyrofoam 44-ouncesodacups, grease-stained fast foodbags, and cigarette butts mucking upour beautiful country.
Litter is more than just ugly it can be downright dangerous.
“There’s AAA research that shows that people have accidents as a result of litter,”said Cecile Carson, senior director of affiliate developmentat Keep America Beautiful,a nonprofitdedicated to making litteringunacceptable.
If a piece of trashflies out of the back of a pickup truck, for example,it could hit another car and cause a crash.
Of course, litter hurts the environment,too.Broken glass and bits ofmetalcan cut people and pets. Plastic and cigarette buttsend up in animals’ stomachs. And anything on the road can end up in our water supply.
“Everything leads downstream,”said Cecile.
When you really love a place, you want to keep it clean. And this can have a big effect.
Keep America Beautiful hasdone a lot of research on thisfact, and theysay the problem is mostly individual people’s behavior.
“Littered environments attract more litter,”said Mike Rosen, a senior VPat Keep America Beautiful. “So if you can decrease the amount of visible litter, you can begin to change attitudes and change behaviors.”
Furthermore, if people see their neighbors and community members making an effort togo out and cleanup, that also makes people think twice before littering.
“It personalizes it,”said Cecile. A litterer might say,”Oh, that’s the KiwanisClub, that’s the 4-H I’m not going to litter on those people.”
People like Larie and anyone dedicated to stopping litter deserve some recognition for keeping our country beautiful.
It’s one thing to decry litter and trash, but it’s quite another to go out and do something about it yourself. Larie’s already inspired others in her community to pick up junk as they walk too, but imagine what America’s streets would look like if everyone wereas dedicated as Larie.
“Ijust like seeing the parks and streets cleaner,” Larie said. “Idon’t like litter; Inever have.”