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here's the dirt
Great. Now we’re the Dirtiest City in America, too? It’s not enough that Houston is the serial winner of Fattest City in America?
Lawnstarter, a nationwide lawn care, landscaping and pest control company, ranked cities coast-to-coast by “32 dimensions of compatibility.” (No wait, that’s eHarmony.) Lawnstarter compared U.S. cities on the basis of: pollution, living conditions, infrastructure, and consumer satisfaction.
Houston came in dead last … or in this case, No. 1 for Dirtiest City in America. Of course, that’s a dirty rotten lie.
For this "study," Lawnstarter calculated publicly available data, like air quality index, gas emissions, percentage of smokers, population density, homes without kitchen facilities, homes with cockroaches, and number of landfills and junk yards.
Here’s a better way of determining if a city is dirty: open your eyes.
Important to note: Lawnstarter folks did not actually visit Houston to take a look around.
Garbage advice from non-visitors
The folks at Lawnstarter suggest that Houstonians stock up on air fresheners, mouse traps, and cans of Raid. Sure, we have some rough parts of town, where people use unlit back roads as an elephant burial ground for worn-out mattresses and rusty old appliances. But overall, Houston is a progressive, forward-thinking town that keeps up appearances.
I don’t have to hold my nose when I walk outside or wear a Hazmat suit when I drive downtown for a ballgame.
I’m not going to dispute Lawnstarter’s finding that Houston is No. 1 in cockroaches and No. 3 in greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the by-product of geography and industry. We’re working on it. But Lawnstarter says we’re No. 1 in overall filth and I ain’t buying it.
The five dirtiest cities in America, according to Lawnstarter, are:
- San Bernadino
- Jersey City
The cleanest city, or more to the point, the least dirty city is Virginia Beach, Virginia. Other spotless towns include Des Moines, Iowa and Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
I don’t like to criticize other cities, but I once stepped in New Orleans and had to wipe my shoes. Chicago wasn’t exactly Tidy Town, either.
How Houston can clean up its act
I’m not saying that Houston is squeaky clean, either. There are some habits and things we need to clean up. They’re little things, but little things mean a lot. Here’s my top-5 list:
- Who are these deranged psychopaths who pick up their dog’s poop, then leave the plastic bag on the sidewalk or neighbors’ lawns? It’s not just unsanitary, it’s disgusting. And unlawful.
- How about people who put their garbage on the curb too early and then leave the empty trash bins out there for days after it’s collected? And thanks for putting your garbage out on holidays when you know it won’t be picked up. Merry Christmas. Makes the street look like a garbage dump for out-of-town relatives.
- I’m tempted to speed up and yell at drivers who throw cigarette butts out their window on I-10. But I don’t. I’m chicken.
- Is it too difficult or a physical hardship to return shopping carts to the parking lot corral?
- We build bike lanes to encourage a healthful habit like riding a bicycle, and then we allow them to become trash heaps. Here’s a million dollar idea: open “Fix-a-Flat” stations every 100 feet next to the bike lanes on Westpark.
Bonus: This one is close to home: raw onions on the ground in fast food parking lots.
I’m told that the No. 1 thing fast food workers have to sweep up at night is raw onions. People take off the onions and throw them out the window before driving away. I completely understand. I hate raw onions, too.
And yet, I love breaded and fried onion rings. I guess that’s what makes me such an interesting person. (Editors' note: Way to peel back the onion on that one, Ken.)