I was raised to clean up after myself. After dinner, my siblings and I cleared our plates and put away any condiments on the table. We weren’t allowed to begin playing another game until we cleaned up the one we were just playing with.
When Mom did the laundry, we put away our clothes. If we had a snack, we cleaned the dishes we used and wiped off the counter. It didn’t just apply to food and our personal belongings, though. If we went to the beach or park, we throw out any garbage we brought with us.
I presume this wasn’t a lesson unique to my family. I imagine parents all across the world telling their children to clean up after themselves. And, mostly, I would imagine most people took that lesson to adulthood and continue to follow it.
Which is why is astounds me how disgusting some people can be. And how there is a total lack of respect of things we enjoy everyday.
Earlier this week, my fiancé and I went to East Otto State Forest to check out the campsites. We’ve been there before, we’ve camped there before. We’ll camp there again. But we were both angered by the way some other campers left the sites. There are 12 designated campsites in the state forest, and while some had people camping in them while we were there, the ones that didn’t looked like garbage dumps.
I was never a camper growing up. We went once, and I did not enjoy it. Now, most of my weekends in the summer are spent at campgrounds. And that “clean up after yourself” rule applies there, too.
One site was littered with beer cans, soda bottles, some burnt piece of furniture and the frame of a pop-up tent. Another had a fire still sort-of burning (an issue in itself), an empty chip bag and a partly-full plastic container of pretzels.
It honestly astounds me.
What I think annoyed me the most, however, were the full bags of garbage along the road. As if they were waiting for the garbage men to come pick them up. Honestly, if you’ve gone through all the trouble of collecting your garbage, bagged it and tied the bag, just throw it in your car and throw it out when you get home. We picked up a few bags of trash, and some other assorted trash, and we’ll likely go back and clean up more.
But please, clean up after yourselves. Most state forests are carry-in, carry-out. If you’re going to enjoy the forest, clean it up.
After all, as the saying goes: Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints.