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What it means when a dog won’t make eye contact …

It’s not normal to be seen on a public sidewalk with a two foot length of smashed car bumper under your left arm. It tends to draw attention to the two heaping bags of trash in your hand.

No wonder a woman and her dog sought the refuge/barrier on the opposite side of a large, thick tree at the very moment I passed them on Sharon View Road. When you can’t get a dog to make eye contact, well, you know you’ve hit rock bottom as a social pariah. I get it. Such avoidance is nothing new; other pedestrians regularly dodge me like the plague.

Nothing says crazy (insert another adjective here) like picking up litter. But by this point in time I’ve learned to embrace my anti-normal behavior.

But you want to know what’s really crazy? This is crazy:

  • The average American generates 4.3 pounds of waste per day. This is 1.6 pounds more than most produced back in 1960. (Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce)
  • Approximately 55 percent of 220 million tons of waste generated each year in the United States ends up in one of the over 3,500 landfills. (Duke Center for Sustainability and Commerce)
  • The U.S. recycles only 34.3 percent of our waste vs. 63 percent in Germany, 62 percent in Austria, 58 percent in Belgium, 51 percent in Australia and 49 percent in Sweden. (Environmental Protection Agency and European Environment Agency)
  • In Japan, less than five percent of waste is landfilled.
  • With less than 5 percent of world population, the U.S. uses one-third of the world’s paper, a quarter of the world’s oil, 23 percent of the coal, 27 percent of the aluminum, and 19 percent of the copper. (Scientific American)
  • National Geographic’s Greendex found that American consumers rank last of 17 countries surveyed in regard to sustainable behavior. Furthermore, the study found that U.S. consumers are among the least likely to feel guilty about the impact they have on the environment, yet they are near to top of the list in believing that individual choices could make a difference. (As reported in Scientific American)

That, folks, is pure American lunacy. Now I don’t feel so bad about being shunned by a dog.


It was too windy to dump the contents of today’s bags on the driveway since there were lots of small chunks of polystyrene I didn’t want to blow all over the place. Who could blame a woman to use a tree as a partition between her and me?

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I'm the one behind two totally unrelated blogs; one on 15 years of writing a weekly letter to my kids (plus other recipients), the other on my localized environmental responsibility. I'm a writer by trade and both endeavors are accepted practice for me. As for the letters, my adult children Ellen and Reid may have seen letters as corny at one point, but it's accepted practice for them, too, to find something in their mailbox other than bills and junk mail. Email and texting don't do a lot for me for a lot of different reasons. Snail mail has its place in the communicative world so as long as they keep selling stamps, I'm buying. As for 'Pick Up Your Path' and the environment, I advocate what citizens can do themselves to take a direct hand in their neighborhood environment. But Pick Up Your Path is also a general environmental blog. It may be largely about litter and trash, but both of those are just one element of the total environmental picture.

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