Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Thankfully, Litter's Getting Harder to Find

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Thankfully, Litter's Getting Harder to Find

Article excerpt

Have you seen the commercial with the crying Steelers fan?

That tear didn't fall after the loss to the Jets. It's an anti- litter commercial, an echo of a public service spot most baby boomers ought to remember from the 1970s: An Indian paddles his canoe through waters flanked by polluting smokestacks, arrives at a littered riverbank and finally sheds a single tear when somebody tosses more trash at his feet.

"Some people have a deep, abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country," the gravelly voiced narrator says, "and some people don't. People start pollution and people can stop it."

Even knowing that the "Indian," Iron Eyes Cody, was later revealed to be a full-blooded Italian born in Louisiana, the message remains powerful. I watched it on YouTube the other day after seeing the Steelers fan spot.

This new one juxtaposes Pittsburgh's natural and architectural beauty against the sloppy mess that too often mars our sacred ground. It will run a few times a day on KDKA and the CW until year's end.

"We are proud of our city and rivers, but we need to see how the trash we toss leaves lasting effects," the narrator says. This commercial likewise ends with a tear from our man as a passing pinhead drops a bag of fast-food flotsam at his feet.

I appreciate this message from the Pennsylvania Resources Council because littering drives me up the graffitied wall. As my own small contribution, I decided Tuesday morning to tally the litter I saw on the mile-and-a-half walk from my North Side home through West Park, past the ballpark and over the Roberto Clemente Bridge to my Downtown office.

That trip left me stunned. Not by what I found, but what I didn't. On that long stretch, I spotted only seven discarded candy or food wrappers, seven glass or plastic bottles, one flattened can, a banana peel and a couple of plastic bags. I'm sure I missed stuff, but Pittsburgh looked pretty sharp. Could it be we're finally cleaning up our act?

I emailed Boris Weinstein, the retired Shadyside marketing executive behind Citizens Against Litter. That group of volunteers fans out across the city and into the suburbs in the spring and fall each year, picking up after the slobs who slink among us. …

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