I have lived in North Texas almost all my life. Before that, my family and I lived briefly in Los Angeles, where it was common for us to see litter on the highways, roads, streets...pretty much everywhere. Back in the late 1980's, Texas started a campaign called "Don't Mess With Texas." It became a national advertisement to help reduce litter on Texas highways. I remember sitting in the back of our car and hearing my parents talk about how clean Texas was in comparison to California. They used to brag to our families from out of state about how beautiful Texas was. Growing up, I thought the same thing. I guess things must have changed since then, because these days, I no longer think that.
The other day, the kids and I were headed to the grocery store on one of the busier highways in Dallas. My kids are big on talking in the car and love to mention everything they see out the windows. Usually I don't pay attention to their conversation, as they are always mentioning the same things - bridge, tunnel, overpass, bulldozer, etc. But this time, they kept talking about the railroad track that was running parallel to the highway, and I couldn't help but look at what they were talking about, knowing that I was going to see the same railroad track that has always been there during previous car rides. But instead of looking over at the tracks, I was instantly drawn to the many wastes and trash that lined the highway. Plastic grocery bags, paper, clothes, soda cans, water bottles, you name it - they were everywhere. I thought to myself, "Maybe it's just this one section of the highway. Maybe they fell out of the back of someone's truck." But as I continued to drive down another mile, then two, I realized it was a reoccurring theme. Litter was everywhere! I don't know what happened after that. I just remember all of a sudden feeling anger and disgust at how bad the city has become, and how it seems like people would rather litter out of convenience rather than disposing of their garbage correctly or recycling what they can. It seems to be too much of a bother for a lot of people, and it's disheartening to realize that when my children see litter in our neighborhood or on the street, they ask if they can pick them up. On that busy highway that day, if it weren't for the fact that it was 100 degrees outside, and I had two young children and a newborn with me, I most certainly would have gotten out of the car and picked up the trash myself.
I don't know what has happened to this great state and to the motto "Don't Mess With Texas," but people have certainly done just that, and what was once a place that I could brag about to family and friends has become a dumping ground for the careless who themselves will one day wonder what has happened to our green Earth.