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Opinion >  Column

Doug Clark: To judge good trash, I’m your man

Getting rid of garbage is one of the most important things responsible Americans can do.

So, please, make sure all of you get out and vote in the next election.

Litter disposal is danged important, too. That’s why I spent several hours last Saturday taking part in the annual Spokane River Cleanup.

Hundreds of good-hearted volunteers prowled the riverbanks and fields in a mass effort to pick up trash that had been discarded by slobs with the IQ of toe fungus.

There’s a lot of creepy stuff lying around.

Someone, for example, found a potato chip can loaded with used needles. Someone else found a packet of court papers relating to some sex offender who didn’t show up for his court date.

Don’t worry. I didn’t actually pick up anything.

That’s just a sure way to catch cooties.

My role in the event was more comic relief. I was asked to judge entries in the “Most Interesting Trash” contest at High Bridge Park.

The organizers told me I was their perfect choice for a garbage judge.

I do know waste when I see it. I’ve written about local government for years.

Anyway, the competition awarded prizes to garbage gleaners who submitted the top trashy treasures in a number of categories like “Most Beautiful” or “Best Outfit.”

I had a great time being a junk journalist.

At one point, for example, a KREM reporter was videotaping some of the entries. I leaned over and pointed to a rusty piece of metal and told him it was Nadine Woodward’s severance package.

For a second I thought the poor man might drop his expensive camera.

My favorite category of the contest was trash “Most Representative of Spokane.”

Picking the winners wasn’t as easy as it sounds.

Someone entered an old tire. See, to me this could represent Airway Heights as much as Spokane.

Two litter hunters found the front and back half of a ruined safe.

I liked that. It reminded me of the collapse of Metropolitan Mortgage.

I also enjoyed Angie Dierdorff’s prize-winning discoveries. In one trash-hunting area, she found a woman’s black and white pump (right), a black eye patch and papers containing the lyrics to two old country songs.

If that doesn’t say Saturday night at the VFW hall, what does?

The bottom line is that none of us took part in the River Cleanup for personal gain. This was all about pitching in for the good of the planet.

That’s why I drive old gas-guzzling cars. It’s called recycling.

That’s why I don’t separate my cans, bottles and newspapers from my trash. It’s called conserving my energy.

And that’s why I wash my dishes with phosphorus-loaded Cascade soap. Hello. It comes in a green box.

By the way, to me the weirdest find of the day was four “still-full” cans of Miller beer.

Throwing away beer?

That’s not littering – it’s lunacy.

Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at

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