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Trashing America - There Is
No 'Away' In Throwaway

By Frosty Wooldridge

Have you ever driven into a restaurant, motel or bar parking lot to see a six pack of empty beer bottles discarded on the asphalt?  How about a rest stop where you saw a case of empty beer cans on the picnic table?

Didn’t you just want to grab the person or persons who did that and smack them upside the head for being so stupid, careless or just plain $#@%&*?

Have you wondered what set of parents brought up some guy or gal who parked their car in a parking lot and emptied their ashtray filled with used butts all over the cement?   You shake your head when you see they could have walked ten feet to a trash can to throw their “cancerettes” into the trash.  If I ever catch one dude doing that, I’m going to give him a plethora of four letter words in a lecture that he will remember for a lifetime…and end with mental midget, moron, wilderness idiot, simpleton and dufus to finish off my tirade against him.

How about when you visit the beach, but witness trash, paper and other peoples’ garbage left after they enjoyed their fun in the sun?  Don’t you just want to scream at how stupid they prove themselves?  How can someone visit the pristine ocean or a beautiful lake in the mountains, but leave their garbage in plastic bags?

Long Beach Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal said, “Long Beach, California spends $20 million annually picking up trash on the beach and in the city of only 500,000 people. Can you imagine if people picked up their own trash and deposited it in receptacles what we could do with that much money for education, fire and police protection and beautifying our city?”

Los Angeles spends millions upon millions of dollars to pick up trash the residents of that city toss in alleys, roads and just about anywhere you can imagine.  If you look at the picture of the sofas and junk, I took a dozen pictures like that as I bicycled across California.  What really makes me sick are the mothers and fathers who toss their soiled baby diapers by the thousands onto the shoulders of our roads across America.  It’s pretty gross and really sickening.  Not to mention the truck drivers who toss their gallon “pee” jugs at rest stops.   Get a grip you mental morons!

In Colorado last week, my wife Sandi and I camped out on a river, along with two other couples, at Keystone Ski Resort near 11,200 foot Loveland Pass.  You cannot find a more beautiful place of woods, stream, trees and white water.  You cannot get any closer to spiritual bliss.

But some wilderness idiots, who think the “Trash Fairy” will pick up their five bags of garbage and leave them a quarter as a reward for their thoughtlessness—caused me to wonder about the human race.  Of course, I picked up the bags and other trash and carried it out with me the next day.   My dad always told us kids, “Leave a place better than you found it to honor Mother Nature and the other animals because it’s their home, too.”  Thanks dad!

Why all the bottles, cans and plastics in the wilderness?  I call it the Peter Coors Factor.  In 1974 and again in 1988 in Colorado, we attempted to pass a 10 cent deposit/return law like Michigan’s for all cans, bottles and plastic containers.  Pete Coors, who owns Coors Brewing, spent nearly $5 million along with American Bottle and Can to defeat the bill.  They used incredibly supercilious ads to make it seem as if consumers would be punished for being forced to bring back their containers for the 10 cent return.    Like sheep, Colorado voters succumbed to money, greed and the power of advertising.  I begged Pete Coors, who is my age, to do something good at the end of his life, but he prefers profits over integrity.  He loves to give his holiday appeal not to cut trees at Christmas in the High Country to preserve the wilderness, but doesn’t care that his beer bottles and cans litter every square mile of Colorado’s back country.   I call him a “pretend environmentalist.”  In other words, he’s a fraud.

Average American generates 100 pounds of plastic waste annually

While we profess to be a responsible nation, a scant 30 percent of Americans recycle with any regularity.   That means 70 percent don’t bother to recycle newspapers, cardboard, plastics, glass or cans.  Some of the worst offenders I have discovered are wealthy people.   On the other side, very poor people in the cities fail to pick up trash or recycle.  It’s disheartening.

“Americans produce 10 million tons of plastic annually, but recycle only 1 to 2 percent of it,” said Chris Jordan, author of Pollution Plastics.

So where does that leave us as a society?  First of all, it shows that those of us who care, around 30 percent, won’t speak up or push for recycling laws.  It shows that the other 70 percent that don’t recycle—keep the upper hand.    It means we continue with enormous waste of billions of plastic bags being used annually.

Plastic bag use

Total number of plastic bags used worldwide annually
1 trillion
Total number of plastic bags China consumes everyday
3 billion
Total number of plastic bags used every minute
1 million
Total number of years it takes for a plastic bag to degrade
1,000 years
Total amount of plastic bags that were discarded in 2008
3.5 million tons
Total amount of plastic floating in every square mile of ocean
46,000 pieces
Average amount of plastic bags consumed per family in 4 trips to the grocery store
Percent of plastic made every year that will end up in the ocean
Total amount of plastic bags used by U.S. citizens every year
100 billion
Average amount of plastic bottles a U.S. household will use each year
500 plastic bottles
Percent of household waste that is plastic


Because we refuse to manifest 10 cent deposit/return laws, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch grows, by some estimates, at 2.5 million pieces of plastic every hour.  The “Patch” kills over 1 million seabirds annually and over 100,000 large marine animals every year.  It’s probably much more.

Do we have the right as the planet’s only cognitive species to continue this death march on other species?  Why don’t we do something to stop the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch?”  What can you do?  In part 4, you will find that you can do plenty to change the course of plastic from the incredible irresponsibility of today to a better tomorrow for all Earth’s creatures—which includes humans!

Part 4: what you can do to turn this monster around


Frosty Wooldridge has bicycled across six continents - from the Arctic to the South Pole - as well as eight times across the USA, coast to coast and border to border. In 2005, he bicycled from the Arctic Circle, Norway to Athens, Greece. In 2012, he bicycled coast to coast across America.  His latest book is: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, copies at 1 888 280 7715/ Motivational program: How to Live a Life of Adventure: The Art of Exploring the World by Frosty Wooldridge, click:



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