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In Focus: Keeping communities clean should be an everyday endeavor

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

There has been a blue plastic grocery bag in my neighbor's tree for a few months now.

The couple who lives in the small, ranch-style home are elderly, and the bag in question sits much too high to simply pull down or I would've done so for them already.

Tangled in the crabapple tree's branches, the blue bag has survived snow, rain and wind and now stands out amongst green leaves.

Living at the bottom of a large hill, it isn't rare for things to collect on our portion of the street.

A random football or soccer ball will lodge itself between the sewer's curb cut and drain grate from time to time in the summer, and the autumn wind stirs restless leaves and carries them to the bottom of the hill to pile in front of my house.

But there's one thing I've been noticing more and more collecting on my street: trash.

A half-full, cockeyed McDonald's bag lies in the roadway with french fries strewn about.

Candy wrappers are tangled up in bushes.

Cigarette butts are hugging the curb.

It would be somewhat more excusable if these items showed up on garbage collection days.

Discarded items from our trash could have fallen out of the back of the garbage truck, escaping the clutches of the compactor.

Or, if it was windy, Mother Nature could've blown over trash cans, leaving items tumbling down the street.

But none have been the case. Especially with the McDonald's bag, it looked like it was purposely tossed out the window by a passing motorist or dropped on the ground when someone exited their vehicle and they were too lazy to pick it up.

As humans, we enjoy beautiful things.

We seek out sunsets and take pictures of pretty flowers. So why do people continue to litter and junk up our towns and neighborhoods?

Earth Day was held April 22, and countless area cleanups were planned and held over a weeklong span. It's nice to have a week out of the year dedicated to the cause, but we all should strive to keep our surroundings beautiful everyday.

Kristina Serafini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1405 or

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