Clean Up Your Own Damn Mess! And Clean Up Someone Else’s Too When You See It.

May 23, 2010

Imagine how much cleaner the world would be if everyone who left their house every day picked up at least one piece of litter and threw it away in a trashcan. We could clean up the world in a hurry. • Dr. Pauline Wayne

I mentioned my public messiness rant recently, but it really deserves more attention than just a couple of sentences. Admittedly, I do not shop at high end boutiques where ever-vigilant salespeople keep the floors clean, but I’ve been shopping today and I was reminded of my pet peeve because in every store I entered there were clothes on the floor and people were walking on them.


If you were at home and something fell on the floor, would you walk on it? Probably not. If you did, you’d also know that if whatever it was on the floor got ruined, you’d have to buy a new one and that could get expensive fast. You’d pick it up or even if you didn’t, you’d probably take a detour around it. If you had a shopping cart at home, you probably wouldn’t drive it right across that sequined tank top nor would you try to push it over a denim pencil skirt or a pair of tie-dyed pajamas.

I pick things up when I see them on the floor. This has led to my being mistaken for a salesperson at multiple venues from Goodwill to Target to Piggly Wiggly. Who would be replacing goods on shelves and rehanging clothing unless she was getting paid for it? But we all have to pay for careless shopping behavior. If you wouldn’t consider shoplifting, why take away a merchant’s profits by destroying their goods?

In the classroom, this care•less irresponsibility translates into leaving your leavings for someone else to clean up. You’re the folks who leave bottles and cans and sunflower seed husks and candy wrappers and plenty of other detritus behind as you exit the classroom. I know you’re probably indulging in the same kind of behavior in coffeeshops and fast food eateries. I hope you’ll stop it.

I feel better now.

Do you clean up your own messes?

Mom’s (yours, mine, and nature’s) rule: I don’t care who made the mess. I asked you to clean it up, so get busy.



  1. I share your indignation and outrage wholeheartedly. Yes, I clean up after myself, and, like you, frequently find myself picking up after others as well. If I see someone litter or knock something off a shelf, a strategy I find works well is to say, in a loud friendly voice, “Excuse me, you dropped something!” Most of the time the person will automatically turn to see if they really dropped something unintentionally, and then, finding they’ve been caught, will pick it up. Do you remember those tv commercials in the 70’s that discouraged littering? I still remember part of a song from one that went, “…If every kid did it/ can’t ya see/what an icky, ugly/no-good world it would be…” They should still run those. It worked on me!

  2. Love your strategy. I will use it with a big, friendly grin to deflect any suspicion. I hadn’t thought of those commercials in ages. I wouldn’t mind playing that in class sometime if I can locate it. W-OZ

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