Musings from George

Who’s responsibility?
July 19, 2006, 8:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

So I’m walking from my car into the building at work, and there are plastic utensils spilled on the ground on the walkway. I step over them, rather than picking them up.

Last week I was at a public park, and there was trash strewn around. I picked it up.

Why the different reactions, I asked myself this morning? Somehow here at work it feels like others are paid to keep the grounds, and the trash on the ground reflects poorly on them (yes, outsourced to some third party with whom I will never interact). The public park seems oddly like a shared resource, and I know that the poor park ranger is too busy to try to keep up with all the ill-behaved visitors who toss trash on the ground … so I’m happy to help out.

Is this not irrational? Do you do the same? What is our obligation to pick up trash, and why are Americans so bad about it? In Europe you rarely see people throwing trash on the ground, and there’s an army of people who care enough about their neighborhoods to pick it up. Somehow here in the US we appear to feel that someone else is paid to clean the highways (or the streets, or the public bus) and that removes the burden from our own shoulders.

Why is that? and should it be so?



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