My Latest Litterary Adventure
By ARNIE ALPERT, for InDepthNH.org
CANTERBURY – With the disappearance of snow by New Hampshire’s roadsides in the early spring comes the appearance not just of wildflowers, but of aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, the occasional worn tire, discards from fast food establishments, and more.
Canterbury’s annual roadside cleanup always provides an opportunity to examine the drinking habits of the littering community.
Here are some of this year’s observations, based on the sample of litter I picked up on April 10 on Asby and Shaker Roads in Canterbury in about 2 hours.
I can’t comment on whether other stretches of roadside would yield the same statistical results. But I can say that the results of this year’s survey are mostly consistent with my analyses from 2013 and 2014.
Aluminum cans are more popular than plastic or glass bottles. I picked up 153 cans, 87 plastic bottles, and 23 glass bottles.
Bud Lite is still the King of Trash. And Anheuser Busch, now AB InBev following a 2008 merger with a Belgium-based firm, still dominates the litter market. Nearly 22% of cans and 57% of bottles were Bud Lite. When other Ab InBev brands are factored in, the multinational beer giant made up nearly a third of all the cans and nearly two-thirds of the bottles.
Coors Light and Twisted Tea once again made strong showings in the can category, with 11% and 10% respectively. No other alcoholic brands were well represented in either the can or bottle divisions. If this were an election, the also-rans might be reported as “scatter.” (If you want to request a recount, you’d better do it soon, for the evidence will be gone by Saturday.)
But this story is not just about beer and other alcoholic beverages. The roadside trash inventory contained plenty of coffee cups as well as discarded containers of chocolate milk, water, and 1 bottle of hand sanitizer. Dunkins and McDonald’s are the clear leaders in fast food trash, with Dunkins coming out on top.
Among litterers, Pepsi appears to be kicking Coke’s corporate butt. I found 30 plastic Pepsi bottles and 5 Pepsi cans, compared to only 1 Coke bottle and 1 Coke can.
Poland Springs, a Nestle product, was also well represented. For the first year, I came across a number of disposable face masks. (How do we make it clear that “disposable” does not mean it’s OK to leave them by the side of the road?)
According to Project Archaeology, “Trash—also known as garbage, waste, junk, rubbish, or refuse—holds information about people. It can tell an archaeologist about what people did in day-to-day life. Archaeologists understand how people lived and the material choices they made through the trash they left behind.”
But as Bob Dylan might have said, you don’t need an archaeologist to see how the trash falls. Just look by the roadside, make a collection, add it up, and add your report to the litterature.