I think you dropped something

By Theresa Wells

It never fails, although the worst days are Fridays when it seems many decide to stop by the new community mailboxes and collect the mail that has been accumulating in their box all week. They pull out their mail, sort it right there so it seems and then, ever so casually, some of them simply drop the unwanted flyers onto the ground, scattering them around as if they are some sort of mass mail confetti.

My neighbourhood just got the new community mailboxes this fall after decades of home delivery. The transition has been fairly smooth for the most part, as I suspect for many of us new to the area home delivery was a bit of a novelty after having become accustomed to community mailboxes in other areas and cities. And while I miss the “clink” of my mailbox after Canada Post has visited and left my mail I have found the move to the community mailboxes virtually seamless – aside from the litterbugs, that is.

I get it, you know. Very few of us want those flyers. Many of us, like me, have made the move to digital as much as possible, using our e-readers instead of paper books and getting even our magazines online – but there seems no escaping the flyers that clog up our mailboxes.

The respectful folks collect them from their mailboxes and take them home and recycle them, of course, but there are some who seem to find this all too much bother and instead dump them on the ground at the community mailboxes, where they fly around in the wind or become sodden masses of paper fibre. I cannot imagine being the person who lives next to the new mailboxes as it would drive me mad, finding garbage constantly in my yard as others have been too lazy to simply take it home with them.

I suppose Canada Post could set up a recycling bin there, but then of course the question becomes who maintains it, who empties it and who pays for it? This could become quite costly if it was necessary at every community mailbox, and since others tell me mine is not the only one with this problem it would seem it might be.

I have a much simpler solution: when you pick up your mail take it home.  All of it, even the stuff you don’t want. Then sort it out at home and recycle what you don’t wish to read or keep. I am so weary of picking up the garbage of others when I find it strewn around, and I resent the casual attitude of simply dropping it on the ground as if this is the solution.

I must admit when we got the new community mailboxes I considered some of the potential issues associated with them, but never did it occur to me that this sort of flagrant littering would be one of them. I made an assumption (a poor one, apparently) that adults knew better than to litter and would not think it was appropriate to do so in any place, let alone a common place where it was going to impact the ability of others to keep their property tidy.

It might seem like a small deal, and I suppose at the end of the day it is – but I think it is one easily addressed, too. Nobody wants the flyers, and it is a tedious chore for all of us who spend parts of our lives trundling paper we didn’t want and haven’t asked for home and then into the recycling and then out to the curb on collection day – but it is, frankly, part of life and being a citizen. I applaud all those who take those flyers home and do exactly that, and to those who simply drop it at their feet at the community mailbox? You better hope I don’t catch you, because there is every chance I will follow you home and hand deliver it to your door, and simply say: “Hey, I think you dropped something…”

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