Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Litter, litter, everywhere

Florida Weekly 'Outdoors' column, 12/05/2018

Litter welcomes visitors to Fort Myers Country Club.

Living where my wife, Maria, and I do, not far from downtown Fort Myers, means we routinely walk, run, bike and drive in and around the area where we see litter permeating much of the landscape and waterways.

In days long gone by I’d stoop to pick up the occasional piece of litter I’d happen upon while running along McGregor Boulevard. But now, aside from the fact that stooping isn’t quite as easy, there’s just too much litter to deal with so I usually limit my McGregor pickups to a block or so from my street as I finish my run with a walk.

That, in itself, is concerning, but the amount of litter there pales in comparison to the amount nearer Cleveland Avenue. One example: at a certain distance from McGregor our street changes personality as it turns into a litter-strewn mess that also has its share of dog waste left on the grass and sometimes even the sidewalk. A small apartment building’s property very near Cleveland Avenue is always laden with trash and debris that spills out onto the sidewalk and street, giving anyone the impression that folks here just don’t care.

Litter from fast food packaging can be found everywhere.

Other than places like Sanibel and Captiva islands, it seems cigarette butts, fast-food packaging, soda and beer containers, and other trash littering roadsides and waterways is the rule rather than exception. From what I can tell, having a litter-free environment where the general public has access requires two major factors: 1.) the propensity of those who reside and visit there not to litter and 2.) adequate property management — including of the public rights of way — being in place so any litter that does show up is quickly removed. The first factor is obviously the most important, but not allowing trash to become an expected part of the landscape is vital as well.

Other than the obvious solutions of reducing waste and always discarding it in appropriate places, I wish there was another answer because the problem is only getting worse, despite ongoing efforts by organizations like Keep Lee County Beautiful (KLCB,

Perhaps one thing that might help is for the fast food industry to join the board of KLCB, an industry that’s noticeably absent from having any presence there. I recall a news article a while back that quoted the owner of a locally based fast food restaurant saying something to the effect that he knew they “made it” when he began seeing wrappers from his products among the roadside litter. Really?

We can all be part of the solution by taking personal responsibility in terms of reducing our waste and always disposing of it appropriately. We can also get involved with efforts and events KLCB undertakes. Just like the injury prevention world I’m so familiar with it’s very frustrating that it’s so hard to convince people to do what everyone knows is proper and expected. You can learn more about this and other issues that affect our community and environment at ¦

- Dan Moser is a long-time bicycle/pedestrian advocate and traffic safety professional who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. Contact him at and 334-6417. 

For Lee County cycling and tri events visit Caloosa Riders Bicycle Club (; Florida Mudcutters (; and SW Florida Biking Meetup Group ( The Florida Bicycle Association ( is your source for statewide happenings. BikeWalkLee’s blog site has all the information you’ll need to stay abreast of advocacy efforts in Southwest Florida as well as statewide and nationally.

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