Greg Jordan: Littering is one of my pet peeves and it should be for you too

May 2—I was hiking last Saturday at Glenwood Recreation Park and the journey was, all and all, going well. The weather was nice and I had found a deadwood shaft that will make a nice hiking stick.

Some people want tall sticks that look like wizard staffs from "The Lord of the Rings" movies. My wizard staffs aren't magical, of course, but they look the part.

Well, it's a good thing that stick I found didn't have magical powers. If it did, somebody might have gotten cursed. I came down a path, saw a clearing along the lake and spotted a plastic shopping bag. Then I saw a stuffed shopping bag next to the lake. Then I saw some litter and tangled up fishing line.

Somebody had been fishing at the spot and that somebody didn't take their trash away. I thought some words unfit for print and packed up all the trash I could find. I was soon toting two loaded trash bags to the nearest garbage can. Littering is one of my pet peeves.

Fortunately for our area, I'm far from the only person who feels this way.

This was proven when, from March 20 to April 20, more than 77 tons of junk and trash were removed from our landscape during the 10th Annual Love Where You Live — Keep Mercer Clean campaign.

The numbers surprised me when County Commissioner Greg Puckett shared them.

A total of 77.41 tons of debris ranging from household waste to junked appliances were deposited in dumpsters stationed at Spanishburg School, Lashmeet/Matoaka School, Brushfork School, PikeView High School and Oakvale School.

To help put that into perspective, the legendary Tiger tank featured in a lot of World War II movies and television shows weighed around 57 tons.

The loads of accumulated litter collected by volunteers cleaning up Mercer County's roadsides adds to that figure. Those efforts brought in another 8,900 pounds of trash.

One particular piece of junk seen in illegal dumps and local streams is the old tire. Sometimes they're used for projects such as tire swings, but there are too many to use up that way.

To combat this problem, Keep Mercer Clean offered two days of free tire disposal near the Mercer County Landfill.

Those two days of free tire collections brought in 1,843 tires.

The 2024 Keep Mercer Clean campaign has now concluded.

It's great to see how the community responds when they have a chance to clean up their areas.

Certain segments of the population can do even more by not littering or dumping their trash illegally in the first place. Keeping the landscape clean is possible. I've seen this fact first hand.

My nephews, A.J. and Alex, attended Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.

I visited Boone during graduation ceremonies and since I didn't have to drive there, I had opportunities to observe the countryside.

I was there for around two days and during that time, I didn't see one tire or any trash in the local creeks. I didn't see trash bags or litter dumped along the roadsides. I didn't see anything like washing machines or old furniture that had been abandoned along a road or rolled over an embankment.

A.J. told me about a beer party some of his friends attended at a local park. They enjoyed their beer and had a good time, but when it came time to leave, they got out a couple of trash bags and collected their discarded bottles and cans in a couple of minutes.

Then they actually took that trash away.

"That's what you do around here," A.J. said.

I look forward to the day when that sort of attitude prevails in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. It would be great to see the amounts of trash collected by volunteers decrease during future Keep Mercer Clean campaigns because there's less litter to pick up.

Maybe some day, I'll be comparing the amounts of litter collected to a pickup truck instead of a tank.

Greg Jordan is the Daily Telegraph's senior reporter. Contact him at

Contact Greg Jordan at