In a bit of tangentially related-to-food news, the Texas Department of Transportation is reporting that the state's motorists are doing much better at keeping food-related trash off Texas roadways.
Smokers, however, are pigs.
TxDOT reported this week that food-related trash items, "which for years have been nearly tied with tobacco trash as the two most prevalent types of litter, have decreased by 76 percent -- from 29 percent of overall litter in 2005 to 7 percent in the latest study."
Tobacco trash made up 43 percent of Texas litter in 2009 and included nearly 400 million discarded cigarette butts.
"That's positive news since food-related trash like to-go bags are far more visible on our roadsides than cigarette butts," TxDOT Travel Information Division Director Doris Howdeshell said in a news release. "However, it's just not acceptable to toss cigarette butts out the car window either."
It's not? Then why have car manufacturers stopped putting freakin' ashtrays and lighters in cars, huh? Where the hell are we supposed to toss our butts? For God's sake, you damn health Nazis have driven us outdoors, so of course that's where...OW! HEY! STOP IT!
Editor's note: We apologize or the previous rant. We here at the Observer love Mother Nature and detest evil tobacco. The author of this post has been chastened.
Anyway, TxDOT's Visible Litter Study also found that beer cans make up far less roadside trash than you might expect. "They comprise just 6 percent of overall litter, followed only by printed material like newspaper and lottery tickets," TxDOT reported. (Yeah, prolly because nobody reads newspapers anymore and recycling the aluminum in beer cans is guaranteed money, unlike the lottery.)
More from TxDOT's release:
TxDOT's Don't Mess with Texas litter prevention campaign has focused on fast food litter for a decade with campaign tactics like printing the Don't Mess with Texas logo on 2 million fast food cups and billboards reading "It's Take-Out, Not Toss-Out."
TxDOT commissions two studies to help measure and tackle the litter problem: the Visible Litter Study, conducted every four years, shows the amount and types of litter on Texas rights-of-way, and the Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study, released every two years, reveals Texans' littering behavior.
"The new Attitudes and Behaviors Study shows smokers who litter don't think cigarette butts are a big problem, but they are wrong," said Howdeshell. "Our research reveals smokers who litter are more likely to toss other items. You could say cigarettes are a 'gateway litter' to tossing bigger, more visible trash on our rights-of-way."
It's true! It's true! Why, I myself used to just toss my Camel butts out the window, but lately I've been driving around pitching out old sofas, canisters of radioactive waste and washed-up whale carcasses. Oh please, somebody stop me...
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Editor: That was starting to sound suspiciously like sarcasm, so we've sent Patrick downstairs to have a smoke and think about what he's done. (YOU BETTER USE THE DAMN ASHTRAY DOWN THERE!) In the meantime, we give you these facts from TxDOT:
• Cigarette filters take 18 months to 10 years to decompose. The cellulose acetate fibers in cigarette filters, like other plastics, are not biodegradable.
• Butts are toxic. A recent New York Times article reported experiments that showed one butt has enough poisons to kill half the minnows in a liter of water -- a standard laboratory test for toxins -- in 96 hours
And finally, here's a little cartoon to help you kick start your weekend of healthy, wholesome living.