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Letter: Litter along roadways in Harford County is a poor reflection on people who live here | READER COMMENTARY

My husband and I moved to Harford County 21 years ago. When we first got here, I was thrilled to be living in such a beautiful county. But as the years have gone by, I’ve noticed an increasing problem with the amount of trash that litters our highways, roads, and even farmers’ fields, which breaks my heart more than anything else.

I think of the farmers going out to their fields in the spring, only to be faced with trash bags, empty cardboard boxes, bottles, cans and other trash. Now that all the snow is gone, but the new spring growth has not completely filled in, it is much more noticeable, especially in the ditches along our main roadways. It’s hard to believe that anyone would just toss their fast food bags and containers, soda cans and bottles, cigarette packages, dirty diapers, and beer and liquor bottles and cans out their window. The latter is extremely disturbing because it means that someone is, indeed, drinking and driving. People drink bottled water, presumably for the health benefits, yet think nothing of throwing that bottle out, not giving one thought to the health of our planet. And don’t get me started on 5-hour energy drink bottles! I’ve personally picked up dozens of them on my short stretch of road alone!

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So, I offer a few suggestions: Bring a bag in your car or truck, dispose of any trash you accumulate in it, and throw it away when you get home. Don’t throw it out the window and make someone else pick up your trash.

If you’re going to the landfill, make sure that your trash and recyclables are secured in your vehicle, especially in an open bed pickup truck.

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Don’t throw your cigarette butt out the window. It takes up to 10 years or more for a cigarette butt to degrade. It is estimated that 4.5 trillion of them are discarded worldwide each year. And even once the filter (which is made of a type of plastic) has degraded, the toxins from the cigarette butts linger in the environment. Above all else, please, I beg of you, don’t empty your entire ashtray in the parking lot of a store or mall.

If you’re out walking, please consider taking a bag with you and, if you can safely do so, pick up trash along the way. Most importantly, teach your children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren not to litter. It will be so much easier to prevent litter from accumulating in the first place, than to clean up after the mess is already made.

I’ve called County Executive Barry Glassman’s office and was told the roads I mentioned are state roads, therefore, they aren’t the county’s responsibility. That may be so, but it is our county, Mr. Glassman. A message to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office resulted in a form letter response, which made absolutely no mention of the reason for my letter. As of this writing, months later, I have yet to receive the promised response. I know there are pressing issues going on in our county and country, but we’re talking about our children’s and grandchildren’s futures.

Our county is a reflection of those of us who live here. We have to take a more pride in our county home. If we don’t, believe me, nobody else will.

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Please help me. A countywide cleanup would be an excellent idea, with everyone responsible for their own neighborhood, whether it is in town or in the country. We all have to do our part to keep Harford County beautiful for a very long time.

THERESA A. TONI

Street

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