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Letter: Shaming can make a litterbug think twice

Litter on a law.

Litter on a law. Photo Credit: iStock

As an environmentalist, I’ve confronted many people about littering, and I usually find it’s an unconscious habit [“Squashing the litterbugs,” Opinion, May 22].

Many people unfairly think that businesses such as restaurants and local governments have staff to pick up litter. About 20 years ago, a friend from a respectable family threw an empty cigarette carton out a car window while I was a passenger. I made her stop the car and asked whether she would throw the box on her grandmother’s floor. She said, of course not, and then I demanded she go back and get the box. A little shaming worked. We’re still dear friends, and she keeps a litter bag in her car.

Many people have never been taught that it’s their responsibility to not litter. Today, I wish I could get my dear friend (and all other smokers) to not throw cigarette butts on the ground! They don’t biodegrade.

Jaime Van Dyke, Oyster Bay

Editor’s note: The writer is chairman of the Nassau County Soil & Water Conservation District.