By Dave Mulligan
I attended the Earth Day celebration at Idlewild Park on Sunday with my wife and some friends. The weather was perfect and there were thousands of people in attendance. Spring was in the air, as were the aromas of various foods and the occasional joint. The music of live bands drifted on the breeze and it couldn’t have been more pleasant. Yet a question plagued me: Why isn’t every day Earth Day?
For some reason, general care and concern for the wellbeing of the Only Planet We’ll Ever Have isn’t a bi-partisan priority. For many decades, the Republican Party has been both populated and pollinated by the largest global polluters in existence. Oil and coal are the most obvious culprits, but there are others, including industrial byproducts entering our waterways, and the smoke and particulates from factories fouling our air. Why is it that a Republican legislator would tend to vote to allow pollution to continue, when a Democrat would almost always vote against it? After all, we all breathe the same air and our kids drink the same water. This is an issue for an entire series of columns as it delves into the even dirtier world of campaign finance and money in politics. Legislation — and legislators — are for sale in America.
But what about basic littering at a personal, individual level? Is that a political issue?
Who is it that finishes a plate of nachos at the park and leaves it on the grass? Who throws his beer cup in the parking lot? And whose cigarette butts dot our Reno sidewalks? Is it only Republicans who so thoughtlessly litter the Biggest Little City? I suppose the only way to find out would be to witness an act of littering, approach the perpetrator, and ask.
“Excuse me. I couldn’t help but notice how you threw those two bags of McDonald’s trash out your car window. May I ask whether you are a Democrat or a Republican?”
I can’t really see that ending well. Maybe I’ll come up with my own estimate on that ratio of R’s to D’s and share it later.
But, more importantly, how can anybody do that? There’s likely a trashcan within spitting distance, yet Mr. or Mrs. Litterbug is too lazy to walk over and drop it in. Or could it be shame? Perhaps they’re merely disgusted by the four burgers and fries they just pounded down in five minutes and guilt caused them to immediately purge the evidence. (Wow. That’s kind of heavy and is fodder for another article.)
Are you a litterer? Just sometimes? Why? Don’t you care how our city looks? I do. I pick up litter every time I walk by a piece. The other day, I saw my son do it too, on his own. That’s my boy.
There are cultures in the world, like Singapore, where one is publicly caned for littering. Yes, caned. Sounds extreme, I know, but I wish it was an offense that our culture found more, well, offensive. It’s the epitome of laziness and apathy for people to “sh*t where they sleep,” essentially, yet many among us do it. My hope is that we can all pause now and then and remember that we only have one earth and it is our home. Let’s step up our game and keep it clean, shall we?
P.S. I promised to report back with an estimate of the ratio of R’s to D’s when it comes to litterers. After much thought and personal observation, I’m going to say 70 percent/30 percent. We can all do better, but especially you Republicans.
Dave Mulligan is a local Reno resident of over 25 years. He is a published author (Mulligan’s Wake), television producer and a left-leaning political activist. He lives happily on the Truckee River and is the married father of three (his most important role, according to Dave).