How I Learned To Stop Being A Litterbug by
(47 Stories)

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

I had the good fortune (Koun) to travel to Japan on business. I was familiar with Lederer/ Burdick’s The Ugly American and so I was on my best behavior. I was remember being impressed with the sale of beer through vending machines on their city streets.

Back then I was a smoker and after almost finishing one I prepared to throw my butt into the street and I stopped myself. The streets were clean and I mean perfectly clean, spotlessly clean. If I had tossed my butt into the street it would have been the only litter within sight.

People often talk about life altering experiences and I had mine in downtown Tokyo – so much so that I still till this day I still will not litter and I often pick up the litter of others.


Profile photo of Kevin Driscoll Kevin Driscoll
(Mostly) Vegetarian, Politically Progressive, Daily Runner, Spiritual, Helpful, Friendly, Kind, Warm Hearted and Forgiving. Resident of Braintree MA.

Characterizations: been there, funny, moving, well written


  1. Marian says:

    A great anecdote about culture, Kevin, and its influence. I had a similar experience during an 8-hour layover in Inchon airport near Seoul, Korea. Airport employees constantly swept and cleaned. This huge place, including restrooms, was spotless. Gave me confidence in eating and resting there.

  2. As a reformed smoker, I am impressed that you were aware of the litter from cigarette butts. I’ve noted that most smokers don’t consider their cigarette stubs garbage!

  3. Thanks for his memory of the eerily clean Tokyo streets, Kevin.

    I once heard that a movie with a storyline set in New York was actually being filmed in Canada. One night, in preparation for shooting the next day, the prop people set up over-flowing trash cans and spread litter in a Toronto street for a real New York look.

    When the film crew showed up the next day they discovered that the Toronto sanitation department had cleaned the street.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    I’d say you learned a great lesson, Kevin. Wish our streets looked like the one in that picture.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Good that you noticed how clean the streets of Japan were, caught yourself before tossing down that butt and kept at it, even once you left Japan. A great lesson learned from another culture!

  6. Mister Ed says:

    Short, clearly written, and with a powerful message. We can learn lots from other cultures.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Funny how little things stay with us like that. Sometimes it is a really good thing they do. Congratulations on changing.

  8. Dave Ventre says:

    Face masks are the new cigarette butts. Dammit.

Leave a Reply