Great Oregon Beach Cleanup picks up after people who trash our worldIt would be useful to know exactly when America stopped preaching against littering. The campaign against being a litter bug did not possess the classic outlines of Smokey Bear's message against starting forest fires. But a generation grew up knowing that it was better to pitch rubbish into the garbage can than on the street. It was part of an ethic about picking up after yourself.

There is no nationwide anti-litter campaign. One consequence is that our streets and highways are de facto garbage dumps. Walk certain streets in Astoria and you'll see it everywhere. Look out your car window as you drive the interstate highways and you'll see it.

Instead of instilling a message, we have cleanup campaigns. This Saturday is the Great Oregon Beach Cleanup.

Tehra Peace's article in Tuesday's edition was encouraging as well as demoralizing. The saddest detail was evidence that Oregon State Park Ranger Patrick Lines has that some people bring household garbage to the beach, knowing that the cleanup is coming. Forest landowners such as Weyerhaeuser Co. see the same phenomenon, with refrigerators and other large appliances being dumped on logging roads.

One of the basic elements of civilization is the concept of picking up after yourself. We have lost that ethic in America.

We cannot improve on Lines' response to what he sees on the beaches. "What are you thinking? This is your world as much as it is anybody else's. It's outrageous. It's pathetic. It's sad."

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