Colorful photo of empty plastic bottles all lying on top of each other in a heap
Since our family car blew a head gasket this past May, I have been getting very familiar with the COTA bus system. Riding the bus comes with a certain amount of walking… and running! I walk from home to my nearest stop. I walk, or sprint, from stop to stop when transferring.   First, let me explain that our Subaru Forrester was our home for a couple of weeks when we had no place else to live. Fortunately we were accepted into the YWCA Family Shelter and managed, after 2 months, to find a new place to live with the help and generosity of the YWCA!   During the course of my travels I began to notice a lot of plastic water, sports drink, and juice bottles. I decided to pick some of them up while walking to and from stops and around bus shelters. Even with a trash can nearby, somehow the ground still seems to catch a lot. This started out simply as a way to clean up a little bit. Now I have become almost addicted to picking up the plastic wherever I am walking or waiting.   As I became hooked on this activity I started keeping a count of the number of items I picked up each day. I also started taking pictures of the accumulation of plastic water and liquor bottles, assorted plastic and foam famous maker coffee cups, lids, straws, and candy wrappers as well as glass beer and booze bottles. The quantity of this trash is astounding. Occasionally I push a shopping cart to the grocery store and I fill the cart with these same items. I have easily picked up over 1000 bottles in a few months and at least as many related/assorted other plastic items. Some days I collect over fifty. Our fair city is being slowly buried in this refuse. I walk the same route and ride the same busses day after day, picking up the trash, only to find more the next day. How sad.   How is it healthy to drink bottled water only to toss the plastic containers wherever they land? This plastic, after being run over or crushed, is gradually going to end up in a body of water by way of the drains leading to the streams and rivers all around Ohio. This eventually leads to our Great Lakes and the world’s oceans. I always try to find a recycling bin to put the plastic in but unfortunately this isn’t always possible. My apartment complex doesn’t even have recycling!   If we had even a nickel or dime deposit on these items, they would either be returned to the store by the consumer or gathered by someone and turned in for cash. Unfortunately, our leaders in their infinite wisdom have not seen fit to enact any legislation in this area. How short sighted! When I was a kid I picked up every glass bottle for two cents and was thrilled when I amassed 50 cents or more. There were no plastic bottles then. Sadly, with the use of plastic the quantity of litter has increased dramatically.  Wouldn’t it be nice to see a homeless or unemployed person picking up all of this plastic for the cash rather than holding a sign on a freeway ramp? When my family and I were homeless, I would have done it.    The point is, somebody would be picking the bottles. Of course, if we had to pay a deposit up front, maybe it wouldn’t end up in the environment to begin with.   Human nature, however, indicates that a certain number of these containers would continue to be tossed on our streets. Sometimes I find full, sealed bottles of water. These I drink and I haven’t gotten sick yet.   One thing I have discovered during my travels - I’ve found only a few pennies and one solitary twenty dollar bill behind a bus stop. If the bottles were worth cash maybe people would be more thoughtful before tossing them out.   I call on Columbus City Council and Mayor Ginther to show some leadership and begin a campaign to clean up our streets. If we each picked up just one or two plastic bottles when we see them a cleaner city would be the result. Smoke if you want, its freedom of choice. Just please stop tossing the plastic cigarette pack wrappers and butts.    Let’s stop the problem. C’mon Buckeyes, show some pride in our city. What do you want Big Ten visitors to see when they come to town? Clean up Columbus!