A few years ago, I wrote a piece about litter and how it relates to the real estate industry. I was inspired to write on that particular subject because I had just been asked to cancel a showing appointment when a couple had done an advance drive-by of the house and found that it was in a neighborhood where they felt there was an excessive amount of litter left on the streets.
“We wouldn’t want to live in a place where our neighbors could just leave litter in front of their own homes without picking it up,” they told me. They even added for emphasis, “We just wouldn’t want to live among people who could stand to live like that.”
I must confess, I have similar feelings when I’m driving down any road or byway. I don’t know if I’m obsessive, okay, maybe I am, but any foreign object of litter on the road catches my eye like a magnet and sets up that feeling of guilt that I can’t stop my car, get out and pick it up. If I happen to be on my own street, even if it’s not in front of my own house, I do it. Otherwise it’s just impractical. After all, don’t we all get honked at if we linger just a second too long when the light turns green?
Litter does affect the value of our neighborhoods and, unfortunately, at least in my case, it tends to affect our feelings about those among us who are not as conscientious as we are, just as my buyer client expressed when cancelling her appointment. Indeed, what kind of people would throw trash from their car on to the road and just not give a damn about it?
Last Saturday, I had a full six hours to ponder that question as I personally cleaned up a half mile of one of the three roads, the busiest one, that borders my property, on the day we in Yorktown have designated as “The Battle of Yorktown,” our annual litter clean-up day wonderfully sponsored by our town and directed by a master administrator named Kim Angliss-Gage.
I adopted that road some years ago in exchange for a sign promoting my real estate practice and at first I would hire people to do the job for me. But for the last two years, I’ve done the job myself as mental therapy, in part to vent my anger against those who litter and in part, of course, to maintain the appearance of my own neighborhood.
First, I am unhappy to report that despite all the campaigns to discourage littering, we seem to have more, rather than less litter on our roads. My collected volume was probably at least 25 percent more this year than last year. But the type of litter seems to be shifting a bit. The number of empty cigarette packs has diminished (besides the health factor, who can afford them anymore?), but alarmingly, the number of empty liquor bottles has greatly increased as has beer cans.
As I worked, I would quell my anger by visualizing the litterbugs as mostly unhealthy people, judging from the predominance of fast food packaging, as well as plastic containers of those sugary jumbo drinks. Indeed, since litterbugs offend only when no one is looking, all we know about them is the scant information Keep America beautiful tells us: they tend to be men between the ages of 18 and 34 who drive more than 50 miles a day and eat in fast food restaurants at least twice a week.
While I mumbled and grumbled during the course of those hours I spent keeping a watchful eye on how close the cars were driving to me (most drivers were very considerate, slowing down, giving me encouragement, beaming and saying “thank you!”), I totally enjoyed the experience of cleaning up. In fact, these were among the most gratifying hours of my year. While doing something good for myself and the neighborhood, I helped restore a patch of Mother Earth to some semblance of how she should be.
There was only one negative factor involved in the experience. From so much bending and stooping, I found that my muscles were aching the next morning, more so than I remember in the past. Oh, yes, I forgot. I’m another year older. That’s all right. Doing good at least makes me feel younger.
Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester (www.PrimaveraPR.com). His real estate site is: www.PrimaveraRealEstate.com and his blog is: www.TheHomeGuru.com. To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.