Open Space Background

Trash in Our Open Spaces - maybe there is less of it?

open space trail
I started hiking in Shell Ridge Open Space before it was Open Space, about 1965. This area used to be a haven for beer-drinking teens who left most of their trash wherever they partied. There were three things that got my goat about trash in those days: the trash was unsightly, I always wondered why they would carry full containers up the hill, but not down the hill and the last one was the clincher--beer bottles always contained a little bit of liquid in them and no matter how hard someone sucked out the contents, this liquid attracted several types of insects. Once inside, they might drink to their heart's content, but getting out was another problem. The sides of the bottles were slippery! It wasn't because these small animals were drunk out of their gourd, it was due to their inability to crawl or even fly out of this narrow opening once they were in. I remember picking up one bottle that was standing almost upright. In the bottom there were no fewer than 100 small insects that had died when the sun's rays heated the bottle over the next few days. They never had a chance!

open space trail
I started carrying a plastic bag during my hikes and gradually cleaned up the trash that I found. Some of it was down steep slopes because, as a can or bottle was emptied, it was thrown over the side of the hill. Soon, I noticed that several other hikers were carrying plastic trash bags. Over the period of one summer, Shell Ridge Open Space was free of trash, especially when the City started placing trash barrels in several convenient places. Now everyone seems to be aware of this problem and, by-and-large, Shell Ridge is free from unsightly trash and the insects have a better chance for survival.

Jerry Fritzke
October 18, 2003

P.S. This is another reason for us to maintain and restore our open space. If we demonstrate that it is valuable to us, other people are more likely to respect it too.

Bill Hunt
November 18, 2003