When it comes to litter, let’s be like Mike (Dukakis)

The former Massachusetts governor has long been a one-man cleaning crew. Imagine if we all were.

Boston Globe Magazine
April 27, 2017
By Elizabeth Gehrman

Not long ago, as I walked through the parking lot at my local supermarket, I picked up a couple of plastic bags that were wafting across the asphalt and stuffed them in my pocket. A passing woman thanked me. It wasn’t the first time this had happened, and it made me wonder: If people recognize that picking up trash is a good deed, why don’t more of them do it?

At the time, I didn’t know I was following in the footsteps of former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis, who has been a one-man cleaning crew for years. He doesn’t recall exactly when or why he started but says he “instinctively just can’t stand living in a dirty neighborhood.” When he entered politics in the 1960s, he recalls, “Boston was filthy.” While it has gotten much better?—?46 Massachusetts communities currently regulate the use of plastic bags, and recycling rates have improved across the board?—?some areas still have a long way to go.

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