If you frequent East Midtown (EaMid? eMid? eMiMo? No, enough!) you may have seen some of our staff strolling around the block of Lagniappe World Headquarters. No, we haven’t decided to start throwing papers in your yards against your will to “exercise” our First Amendment right. Nope, we’re just exercising our right not to be lard-esque, not sure what amendment that is.

Due to the large amount of cookies, cakes and alcohol that just shows up at said headquarters all the time, coupled with the relative lack of physical activity it takes to produce a newspaper (although we do still sweat a lot as we near deadline), we were all getting a little blubbery, or at the very least, sedentary. So our assistant managing editor Gabriel Tynes had the brilliant idea for the office to participate in Shape Up Alabama, a statewide program designed to “facilitate a community-wide awareness effort to promote a holistic approach to a healthier lifestyle.”

Not sure how “holistic” we have been. It’s been more like we don’t eat a “whole” pizza or two on deadline day anymore. But with our twice-daily treks, we’re collectively doing pretty well on losing the ol’ LBs.

But what we’ve also noticed on our laps around the Lag, as we get more up-close-and-personal with the streets of Mobile, is even though we have the strictest litter ordinance we have had perhaps in the history of the Port (or in our case, the Portly) City, we are still one giant trash bin. (And yes before you ask, we are going to start picking it up on some of our walks.)

But after really looking at the kind of garbage there is on the side of the road, it made me really curious about its origin. (I really need to get some more hobbies.)

Obviously, there are crumpled up fast food bags and empty Mountain Dew and miniature liquor bottles people are clearly tossing out of their cars, but some of the other trash doesn’t appear to be something that would come from a vehicle.

I’m sure the people at Keep Mobile Beautiful and other such. agencies, as well as the litter enforcement officers, have piles of data on this, but I had never really thought about it. I just assumed the majority of it was coming from the wretched car tossers.

But after more careful observation, I think there are other factors at play. And there are numerous guilty parties, including some of us who may be inadvertently contributing to the problem without realizing it.

Let’s examine some of the evidence.

Exhibit A: Flattened beer cases, ball caps, discarded packaging for tools and various other things that dudes throw in the back of their trucks.

If you are one of the millions of men who watched the Super Bowl and felt the need to buy a Chevy Colorado truck, congratulations. I’m sure, as advertised, it will immediately get you all of the hottest babes and make you Tom Brady handsome.

But if you and your new model girlfriend start tossing your own fast food bags, flattened beer boxes and even your favorite ball cap (or her Victoria Secret wings) in the back of your truck, remember to take it out or secure it before you hit the streets, because once you hit a certain speed as you are jamming to some AC/DC, it’s going to fly out. That’s just physics and science. Ask Bill Belichick. I’m sure he can explain it better than I can.

I’ve been behind a few trucks of late and witnessed this and I’m pretty sure the driver had no idea and is probably still wondering where his favorite cap is.

So rule number one: Always check your bed before you head!
Exhibit B: Shredded up papers, bills, food containers and other household/office trash

As we were making the rounds the other day on our afternoon office excer-jaunt, we noticed a scattered array of shredded office paper on the sidewalk that had not been there on the morning stroll. I couldn’t figure out where such a mess would come from, as again it didn’t seem like the kind of trash one would throw out of a car or would fly out of the back of a truck. But then it hit me. Almost literally, as I happened to get behind one of the “one-armed bandit” garbage trucks later that week.

At the particular stop I witnessed it was having trouble getting the bin up past the oak trees so it didn’t get to do its dump properly (Ewwwww!) and loose garbage hit the street all around. One breeze or fast car passing by would be taking that garbage to yards near and far. A huge mess was imminent.

Yikes! I know my own household has been guilty of this. We obviously bag up all of our household garbage, but anything we get out of our cars or even the litter we pick back up from our yard we generally just toss it right on top of our own garbage bin all loosey goosey. I guess I had just never thought about this because by the time I get home, my bin is empty and on its side. If any loose garbage did escape, it was probably at the end of my neighborhood by the time I pulled in my driveway.

So rule number two: Bag everything up tightly, so things won’t get unsightly!

(I know that one was lame, but it’s a column on garbage, what do you want from me?)

Exhibit C: Circulars and “newspapers”

I miss having the Press-Register thrown in my yard back when they were actually throwing a NEWSpaper I requested and paid to have thrown in my yard. But these advertising products they are slinging in everyone’s yards now seemingly randomly and certainly not by request is not only annoying it’s another huge problem with the war on litter.

I can affirm we have seen these circulars they throw in various states of decay along our path and of course, everyone has seen it in their own neighborhoods.

You can call and cancel the service you never requested, but I never think to do this. I immediately just take it out of the bag (we use those to pick up our dog’s poo on our walks) and then “loosely” toss it in our garbage bin. Oh poo! You see what’s happening here?

Even the mayor’s office asked them to stop. But they asserted their First Amendment right to throw this “newspaper.” Even though the only news in the last one I received (I admit I looked at it for the first time for the purpose of this column) was a recipe, an anemic calendar of events and pictures of homes in a town called Bridgeport, wherever that is. So glad our soldiers fight for their right to provide us with a Chicken Enchilada recipe from the Detroit Free Press’ food writer.

Look, y’all know what I do for a living, I would tattoo the First Amendment on my back if I could handle the needles and irrational fear of hepatitis.

But this ain’t news, y’all. It’s just a nuisance.

Rule Number Three: Remember to call before the next one falls.
(And then again, after they still don’t cancel it. The number is 219-5343. It took me 11 minutes and 1 second to do this so make sure you have enough time on your hands. Did I mention the word nuisance?)