Lafayette, you are disgusting.

There. I said it.

Now before you get all up in a huff, allow me to identify as "Lafayette", too. I don't live in Lafayette proper, but I do live in Lafayette Parish, and I am part of the problem. I'll explain later. First, take a look at this photo.

The photo above was posted today on the Bayou Vermilion District's Facebook page. This is what the "Trash Trap" (as I call it) caught in a tributary to the Vermilion River after recent rain.

The device is officially known as the Bandalong, and I am sad that the device had to be invented. Its purpose is to trap trash and debris in canals and tributaries before it has a chance to flow downstream in main rivers and bayous.

I called the Bayou Vermilion District and asked them to estimate how much trash is in the picture above. Tom Melancon heads the Bayou Vermilion River clean-up team, and he estimates there to be around 40 barrels of trash/debris in the Bandalong pictured above. I also asked how often that much trash is collected. Lauren (with BVD) told me "too often", and then gave me the numbers from 2019:

  • 1,990 55-gallon drums of trash
  • 237 trees
  • 192 "large" items (refrigerators/appliances, furniture, etc)
  • 95 tires
  • 3 cows

Yes, 3 cows (probably not a "litter" issue, per se, but an accidental wandering-into-the-river that turned out bad for the cow).

Let's math: 1,990 x 55 (gallons) = 109,450 gallons of garbage pulled from the Vermilion River and its tributaries last year. That's a lot of trash.

Now, getting back to my original accusation: Lafayette, WE are disgusting (yes, I am including myself). Wait, you say that you don't litter? I don't litter, either, which is great, but: is it enough? I began to think about what more we could do to prevent litter.

In our own yards, we can make certain that there are no items that could get blown away by the wind or washed away by rains. We could keep an eye for any trash along the streets in front of our own homes, and police accordingly. We could even watch out for trash in our neighbors' yards and police that accordingly (that's what good neighbors do, right?).

The next suggestion is the hardest of all: call out any litterers you know. If you see someone litter, let them know, politely, that they dropped something. If they don't pick it up, do it yourself. I know that you didn't toss it on the ground, but when we lead by example, it might catch on.

Until it does, it really is up to us to clean up after the ones who are really disgusting. Those few people, I'm sorry to say, have the ability to make all of Lafayette look disgusting.

Let's each do our part.

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