If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen someone throw litter from a car or truck, I could afford gas a lot easier for my own car.
Litter bugs, like the one I saw let a handful of food wrappers fly while driving on State Route 18 last Friday between Covington and Maple Valley, are inconsiderate slobs who can ruin the day for others with their trashy calling cards.
There is no sliver lining in this scourge, althougb at least you can say they’re helping put paychecks in the hands of hard-working young people. It’s just too bad there’s a need for the state’s Ecology Youth Corps, which this week will start its annual highway cleanup.
Each summer, the Department of Ecology puts teenagers – 14 to 17 years old – to work picking up litter beside highways that ingrates use as their personal trash bags and ashtrays. The details were scheduled to start Monday, and by the time the 300 or so crew members statewide are done, they’ll have removed an estimated 115 tons of debris from about 800 miles of roadway.
Some of the waste is of the most unmentionable type.
“People throw out everything you can imagine, and then some,” said Steven Williams, an Ecology Youth Corps manager. “We find construction debris, plastic bags, sporting goods, drugs, furniture and human waste, not to mention lots of cigarette butts, bottles and cans.”
SR-18 is one of eight highways or freeways in King County that the corps will tackle. Each corps member will be be paid $8.07 per hour.
And if you think that relatively paltry wage and the unseemly task of picking up others people’s garbage makes it hard for the state to fill these jobs, think again. Nearly 600 young people applied for the combined 96 positions that were available in King County and four other Puget Sound-area counties.
Clearly, these teens want to work. And they have great attitudes that should put litter bugs to shame.
If the thought of decent young people cleaning up after them doesn’t get trash chuckers to go straight, maybe a fine of $1,025 or $216 will. That’s the penalty for tossing out a lit cigarette or not securing a truck’s load. Rat out a violator by calling 1-866-LITTER1.
Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 1050) and firstname.lastname@example.org