It’s that time again – when we roll up our sleeves and mount a full-scale assault on the mounds of garbage that reoccur annually along our roads and highways, parks, yards, virtually everywhere.
In past columns I’ve noted that the Greater Anchorage area has the distinction of possessing the largest landfill in the U.S. In Spring it stretches from Girdwood to Eklutna!
Here’s a nice graphic image to put our toilsome trash travail into perspective. During a recent citywide cleanup, about four million lbs. were collected. Based up an average density of 30 lbs. per cubic foot, about 13,300, 10-yard dump trucks would be required to hold that much refuse. Placed atop one another, they would soar above Anchorage’s skyline.
After years of research and inquiry, I’m still at a loss as to where it all comes from.
Culprits named are improperly covered truckloads, wind storms and refuse from passenger cars. But have you ever seen the crime in commission? I give the culprits credit for being brazen, because in Alaska littering is a misdemeanor (AS 46.06.080)– punishable by a $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail, or both.
In the state of Washington, littering fines can reach up to $5,000.
My eyes almost popped out when I read that litterers were apprehended and prosecuted a few years ago in Juneau through the use of video camera surveillance. Imagine…litterers actually caught and held responsible! Perhaps a few cameras along the Glenn and Seward highways would do wonders.
This is probably my last column on the subject because I’ve come to realize that writing about it year after year does absolutely no good. The only thing that works is the annual citywide cleanup effort itself, which is a truly amazing event. Organized by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, it rallies thousands of Alaskans of all ages.
Other interim cleanups, such as those conducted by JBER troops, Boy Scouts and other organizations, are also essential in the overall goal of sprucing up our public areas to make them worthy of the natural beauty that surrounds us.
This year’s Citywide cleanup is April 27 to May 4, (see link below) and I strongly urge everyone to get out and clean along a stretch of road, around a park, near a business – anywhere you see the ubiquitous, unsightly garbage.
Where it comes from year after year—no one seems to know. Or, if they do, they are unwilling to step forward.
A couple of years ago I speculated that the trash came from diabolical space aliens in the middle of the night. I’m beginning to believe I’m right.
We are the aliens.
Frank E. Baker is a freelance writer who lives in Eagle River with his wife Rebekah, a retired elementary school teacher.