I have heard civilization described as the measure of the distance between man and his excreta. If that's true, we may not be doing very well.

Let's suppose that years ago you bought one of those very large projection television things - you know, the one that's about as large as a refrigerator. And now, in the age of ultra high definition organic light emitting diode, wall-size flat screens that weigh about 5 pounds, you have to divest yourself of the behemoth. What do you do?

Of course, you put it out on the road with a "free" sign on it hoping that some other fool will come along who just has to have this gem and will load it into his VW Beetle and relieve you of your responsibility to dispose of it properly. You also hope this will happen before it rains, because once it's wet, it's trash - as if it isn't already.

Near where I live, there's a couple who "dumps" stuff periodically late at night. I've seen them slinking away from dropping off their treasures, pulling their wagon and using a flashlight to make their way home. At least most of their "stuff" is actually claimed by someone else. Anything that's usable like that could be donated to Goodwill, Common Goods, the Salvation Army and many other charitable resale stores. I imagine the staffs at these stores have some colorful stories about what has been left on their doorsteps! We stopped having our church rummage sale because of the excreta that was "donated" under the cloak of darkness.

I work part time at a store with its own dumpsters for trash and cardboard. It's a real education to see what my fellow citizens will throw in them - TVs, microwaves, other small appliances and probably some hazardous chemicals and things they hide under the store's trash. I wouldn't mind the cardboard, but the dumpers don't even have the courtesy to flatten the big boxes.

I would imagine most everyone knows they can take things to a landfill, but that does require people to actually expend some effort and energy and also pay to dispose of certain items. When you get your oil or antifreeze changed, or buy new tires, you pay a disposal fee because the business has to dispose (legally, I hope) those fluids/items. Maybe it's time to add a disposal fee to everything that's recyclable, reusable or will have to be disposed of when it is no longer useful.

Of course, manufacturers, retailers and consumers will complain to high heaven about that, so don't look for it to happen anytime soon. And the government will have to actually use the money for landfills and not some other pet projects.

We all probably live here in part because this area is so beautiful. It's too bad some of us don't understand that freedom and responsibility are integral, inseparable parts of being civilized and keeping this area beautiful and enjoyable for all.

Well, that's the way I see it.