So Much Litter, So Many Questions

Do litterbugs prefer Bud?

May 23, 2017

Four volunteers removed 30 tires, two bikes, a gas grill and other illegally dumped trash earlier this spring at the Bockes-Ingersoll Forest Reservation in Londonderry. From left to right: Joel Sadler, Tim Eliassen, Alan Cort (all Forest Society land stewards) and Mike Byerly helped out during a collaborative clean-up, part of a Beautify Londonderry event. Photo by Jenn Seredejko.

Memorial Day is this weekend and people will head out to natural areas for picnics, hikes and bike rides. We want to have fun surrounded by natural beauty, and most of us will find that natural beauty unsullied, thanks to the hard work of the litter picker-uppers. 

At Forest Society properties each year, volunteers and staff fill nine or 10 pickup trucks to overflowing with garbage bags of collected litter, and more truckloads of tires, furniture and other junk - and that's just the organized clean-ups by one organization!

Jenn Seredjko and volunteer Bob Holdsworth at Mt. Major.

It would be great if a once-a-year cleanup was all that was needed, but litter control is really an ongoing commitment of people who care. Volunteer litter picker-uppers are superheroes among us who have fashioned their capes into large black trash bags and wear disposable gloves. 

Many do the job without any thanks or fanfare. They simply pick up trash when they see it, rather than stepping over it and wishing other people weren't such slobs. Some of these unsung heroes remember to bring a trash bag with them whenever they hike, fish or whatever so they can leave the place better than they found it. They can't ignore hazards to wildlife like broken bottles or strangling six-pack holders and fishing line. 

A person can't be a litter hero for long before starting to ponder certain universal questions. You may be surprised at what those big questions are, but I can assure you that every litter picker upper has probably pondered them: 

1. Why so many Bud Light cans? 

Lisa and Dale Wisler of Atkinson are volunteer land stewards for the Forest Society's Webster Natural Area in Kingston. Hands down, the most common name on the beer cans they pick up at the natural area and along their own road is Bud Light. McDonalds, Dunkin' Donuts and Marlboro are other brands that come up again and again, but Bud Light beats them all, Lisa Wisler said.

She acted on this phenomenon and wrote to Anheuser-Busch to tell the makers of Bud Light that they should use their marketing power to encourage their customers to care more and litter less, especially since their littered cans have the New England Patriots logo on them as well as their own. 

"Create an ad campaign," she suggested in the letter, "perhaps using a popular Patriots' player, since their logo is also sullied by being on your litter."

She also suggested that they sponsor a paid community-service day when employees could go out and pick up trash. 

"You will see for yourselves how bad this image problem of yours is, and then perhaps take your pride in product, community and country, and do something to reverse this despicable situation," Wisler wrote. 

These are some fantastic ideas, in keeping with Anheuser-Busch's website that touts that they are "Brewing Goodness" and working hard "to create not only great beers and engaging experiences, but also a Better World. We take ownership for the impact our actions have on this world."

So far, Anheuser-Busch has not responded to Wisler's suggestions, even though they have a plant right here in Merrimack, New Hampshire. 


2. Why do dog walkers responsibly pick up their dog's waste but then hang the poop bags from trees along the trail?
More often, dog owners leave the bags alongside the trail. It's great that these folks scoop the poop. That prevents ruining a fellow walker's experience and keeps waste bacteria out of any water resources nearby. Now if dog owners could just add that last step of taking the bag to a garbage can, we'd all be wagging our tails.

3. How can it be that people will lug full cans and bottles up a trail or through the woods to a destination, but they can't seem to handle carrying out the much lighter empties?
4. Why would anyone who appreciates natural areas enough to go spend time at them then turn around and leave trash on them? 

These are all questions that are common among litter picker-uppers, but they're no match for these folks who just shrug and keep on caring for our most special places. 

There are takers and there are givers, but our litter heroes are a little of both - givers in spirit who take away a little bit of the bad stuff for the rest of us. 

Brenda Charpentier is communications manager for the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. Contact her at