Annoying insects start showing up in May.

One of the most irritating is the "litterbug." An astute sixth-grader defined the word: "A litterbug is a messy two-legged animal that travels around the country turning it into a dump and spoiling it for other people."

While we've been driving along the highways and byways since moving out West, my husband Grit and I see it isn't just an Eastern problem.

Seems people everywhere are determined to decorate with broken bottles and empty plastic bags.

In our beautiful country, we have established magnificent parks and forests for education, recreation and pleasure for all, and pay taxes to keep them up.

However, with current attitudes of many who have no outdoor manners, much of the funds earmarked for upkeep — millions of dollars — is going to picking up litter instead of improvements.

In this land of abundance, as we go about our many activities, we get lazy.

We toss things away instead of recycling or taking the time to dispose of our waste properly.

Litterbugs create unsightly messes. Take a look around after a football or basketball game at the amount of litter left behind.

Some people must have a mentality that life involves being waited on.

How sad that attitude is when it only takes a moment to pick up after ourselves, even if we must cart a bag home to put in the garbage.

Hiring more people to clean up after us is not the answer.

A few years back, when the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made a very wise change by eliminating most janitorial services in local ward houses, it really made a difference.

When we know we are responsible for cleanup, we pay attention and pick up our "stuff."

Changing our ways doesn't take great effort; it is mostly a matter of being aware and willing.

When my grandson, Jake, was a 5-year-old in Connecticut, he was the monitor of all the garbage in his house.

His mother told me it was not her encouragement that made him the family recycler; it was a trip their nursery school took to the garbage museum in Stratford, Conn.

On a visit to their home, I watched as he made fast work of a yogurt. Upon finishing he turned it over and said, "Mom, it's a 2," then he walked to the sink, washed it out and ran outside to throw it in the recycling bin.

When they moved to Paradise Valley, Ariz., the family ordered a recycling bin and judiciously kept up the good work.

That is until one day our son, Tom, walked out to see the garbage man pick up both bins and dump them in the same place. They will need to get proactive.

If a 5-year-old with just a small amount of awareness can be responsible, so can we.

Decomposition of litter can take from just a few weeks for a discarded traffic ticket to never for a glass bottle, so it behooves us to be as active as Jake in watching out for our environment.

In their book "The Green Book," Elizabeth Rogers and Thomas Kostigen report that "Consumers will discard about 400 million electronic items this year, making it the fastest-growing category of waste." It is not only unsightly to throw them in a vacant lot or a river or a canyon, it is a danger to our health.

Going green isn't that hard.

If each of us would always use a proper receptacle to dispose of trash, keep a litterbag in our cars, prepare for our boat outings and picnics with adequate trash bags, talk about it with our friends and teach our children to clean up after themselves, perhaps together we can slow down the litter.

Abraham Lincoln said, "I like to see a man proud of the place he lives in; I like to see a man live in it so his place will be proud of him." No one wants a wadded Kleenex to become our national flower.


E-mail: sasyoung2@aol.com