As many of you know, I enjoy a good early morning walk in the neighborhood. It’s the best time of day, when the train whistle calls off in the distance and the world is just awakening. Because it’s also cooler, I prefer to walk before the sun rises or just as the sun peers its face over the horizon.
One of the things that I’ve noticed as I walk my dog past Woodland Elementary is the alarming amount of garbage that has taken up residence along the street, as well as along the school grounds. There’s a bottle of sunscreen that’s been sitting in the grass in the back of the schoolyard itself since the end of May, and we’re approaching September. The garbage pails look as though they haven’t been emptied since the end of June and the greatest concern with this amount of pollution is what we’re doing to the ground water, as well as what we’re teaching our kids.
There’s also a disturbing amount of dog waste hidden in the grassy curbside. At times, it’s also on the cement sidewalk. I’ve noted that there are those who pick up after their canine pals, only to leave the bag in the grass outside the school property. It’s not only unlawful to leave waste on public and private property; it’s also disgusting.
I’m a dog owner. I pick up after Luna every single time. On the off chance that I’ve run out of bags in the bone-shaped receptacle on her leash, I’ve always got a napkin on hand to grab and carry, although I don’t often have to resort to this plan of action because I’m prepared. Because there’s so much litter on the school grounds and the curbside, I’ve often found Target and CVS bags in abundance that will hold the little waste until I get home, dispose of it properly and sterilize my hands with a gallon of bleach.
When dog owners leave waste on public (and private) property, they are making it bad for the rest of us who follow the rules. The fine for littering is $350 and/or public service with subsequent fines of $700, while the fine for leaving dog waste is $250 for each violation. The sad fact remains that there are those who are responsible pet owners, and there are others who unfortunately are not.
Way back when my daughter was in nursery school, her instructors taught her and her classmates about ecology. For those who are unaware, ecology is the branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and their environments. It’s also the political movement that seeks to protect the environment, especially from pollution. At the time, my daughter was learning about the importance of throwing away garbage in appropriate receptacles. To reinforce this idea, I took her up to Woodland with a large kitchen garbage bag and two pairs of rubber gloves. We cleaned the entire curbside, from the entrance of Woodland School to the end of the school yard by Evelyn Drive. It was exhausting, but we felt a sense of accomplishment afterward, for we had done our small part to help Mother Earth.
There have been a few items on social media regarding the litter problem in Hicksville. A group of residents recently got together to clear the train station and Broadway of litter, including storm drains that were clogged with garbage. The before and after photos were eye-opening. I don’t know what happened to this town, but it’s clear that all residents must do their share to keep our streets clean and our groundwater safe. We must also enlist those in office to help get the job done and enforce rules against those who fail to pick up after themselves, especially store owners who fail to comply.
On Sunday, I saw that same bottle of sunscreen in the grass at Woodland. I scooped it up and dropped it in the garbage pail at the end of the schoolyard. If I’m able to do this, everyone should be able to. Together, we can make Hicksville a place to be proud of, not just for ourselves, but for our children as well.
Patty Servidio is a columnist, contributing writer and columnist with Anton Media Group. The views expressed by columnists are not necessarily those of the publisher or Anton Media Group.