This Oklahoma Town Ended Up on the National ‘Dirtiest US Cities’ List
Recently Critter put out a post that ranked Oklahoma's towns by how trashy they were--in terms of having dirty and littered streets--and it got me thinking about where Oklahoma and our towns would rank in that same sense of 'dirty' on a national level.
I've spent a fair amount of my life traveling the country and it's only fair to say that litter and roadside trash exist everywhere. Well, except for the roads around Disney World... they keep the trash at bay in the swamps of Florida.
The trashiest place I've ever been to would have to be Houston, and H-Town appeared on the list as the #1 trashiest city in America. If you've ever been through there, you know what's up. People just toss trash out of their cars rolling down the road, the garbage is built along highways the same way windblown snow banks up on the plains of Oklahoma... but our Sooner State made the top ten on that list too.
Comparing the metrics of pollution, infrastructure, conditions of living, and overall consumer satisfaction, Oklahoma City ranked as the 9th dirtiest big city in America.
If you've ever gotten off the beaten path in pretty much anywhere in The City, it's hard not to notice the litter blowing around. It's especially true in the frequently traveled touristy parts of OKC... Bricktown, Hefner, anywhere along I-240 or I-44, Downtown in the capitol district, around the OKC Zoo, litter and garbage is everywhere--but that's also true of most big cities.
Oddly enough, by the metrics OKC did as well as it did poorly. It ranked high for the infrastructure put in place to deal with trash... collection vehicles, landfills, trash pickup crews, etc... but it also ranked really low for air quality and pollution--blamed mostly on emissions of the large manufacturers across the metro.
OKC has the 5th highest greenhouse-gas emissions per capita in the nation. Weirdly, Tulsa has the 4th most, Houston and Amarillo at 3 and 2, and Denver scored as the worst polluter nationwide.
The living conditions (rats, nuisance animals) landed OKC in the top twenty-five, and overall consumer satisfaction hovered near the lower third of the 150 cities polled, but that's probably the easiest metric to improve.
Don't like living in a trashy town? Get outside and clean it up.
Therein lies the real problem... As Americans we all want but the overwhelming majority won't be willing to work for it. Picking up trash and litter isn't viewed as a self-rewarding public service in most eyes, it's rather seen as "below" most.
In that opinion, they can live in the trash all they want.
Before you say something like "You're from Lawton, your whole town in trashy..." I know. It's something we struggle with since half the population isn't from here, so there's no reason to think of it as 'home,' but the wind blows like crazy here.
The city is trying to place this responsibility on our businesses under threat of levied fines, but that'll prove to do more harm to small business growth rather than encourage litter reduction. It'll be another ten years until Gen-X can move into those elected positions to bring new fresh ideas and problem-solving.
I'm just thankful my neighbors clean and mow their yards with regularity.