The student news site of Notre Dame Academy

The Tritonian

The Tritonian

The Tritonian

Angry About Litter, Gary Machlett Decides to Start Picking It Up


“I think there is so much going on in the world today that sometimes people don’t view litter as one of the biggest problems we face,” said Gary Machlett of DePere.

Machlett, a neighbor of English teacher Carolyn Brown, has been collecting neighborhood trash with his wife, Kathy, since October of last year.

“I am an avid bike rider. I ride all over the beautiful quiet roads of Brown County,” he shared. “Over the years I have noticed more and more litter in ditches and in the sides of the roads. I found myself distracted from what should be a very pleasant experience (riding my bike), to getting frustrated and angry with all the unsightly litter.”

He then decided that instead of getting angry about the litter, he was going to start picking it up.

“My wife and I have always tried to pick up litter on Earth Day, but I was going to begin doing this year round. I am retired, and I view this as a very positive volunteering outlet,” said Machlett. “My attitude is that even though I didn’t throw the litter, I can be a tiny part of the solution.”

He shared that he was able to make a lot of progress on his project over the winter with the help of his wife.

“My wife Kathy has been a huge help to me. She started soon after I did. She is a runner, and she is able to do a great job of keeping the areas clean that we have previously done,” said Machlett.

One of the couple’s observations on their initial cleanup was that the litter was “almost exclusively beer cans, fast food packaging, plastic water bottles, empty cigarette packs and plastic bags.”

“Many people are struggling and really don’t care. I am surprised how many people must drink and drive based on the number of beer cans and alcohol bottles,” he said.

Machlett credited the anti-litter campaign of the 60s and 70s for teaching his generation not to litter. He said the campaign “really was effective and left an impression on people back then.”

“I do feel that most people do care and want a clean and healthy planet,” he said. “There are so many things that we can’t directly impact, but there is something beautiful and cleansing about the feeling you get after you go out and pick up litter.”
Machlett suggested a powerful, inspiring video called “Keep America Beautiful: The Crying Indian.” The link is

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Cassi Garrison
Cassi Garrison, Staff Writer
Cassi Garrison is a junior excited to enter her third year of writing for the Tritonian. She is very interested in current events, particularly social and environmental issues. Outside of journalism, she enjoys playing pickleball, participating in the school band, and spending time with family.

Comments (0)

All The Tritonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.