Almost Heaven

Keep West Virginia Beautiful

I was going to blog today about job interviews, but something else inspired me on my drive to school: LITTERING.

I’ve never considered myself a “green” sort of gal, but then again, I pride myself on being environmentally friendly before it was considered trendy.  Growing up in the country, I do not have access to city water, so I was always taught to conserve by not leaving the faucet running while brushing my teeth, and all those other water-conserving tricks.  Plus, sticking my old plastic Wal-Mart bags in the recycling box at Wal-Mart just seems like a simple, common-sense thing to do.

So I’m not sure if it is the “green” in me coming out, or if I’m irritated at the lack of responsibility from my fellow human beings, but I decided it was time to take a stand against and say something regarding the growing epidemic of litterbugs.

My daily scenic route is now full of McDonald’s bags and cups, empty Bud Light cans and cases, and plastic bags, and it is troubling.  Throwing garbage out of one’s vehicle is irresponsible in the fact that it causes an eyesore, it is bad for the environment, and it is bad for the economy.

The solution for unwanted trash is simple: People should keep a plastic bag or some other kind of receptacle to put trash in, in the car.  That way all cans, bottles, cups, and bags can be put in it instead of thrown out of the window to make a mess of our environment.  No one has to see the mess inside of a vehicle, but everyone has to see the mess that is being made of our world when people litter.

The following facts are from West Virginia’s Department of Transportation:

~ West Virginia spends more than $1 million annually to remove litter from state highways.

~ The annual cost of roadside litter control nationwide is $115 million.

~ Littering costs us so much more than just tax dollars.  Littering takes away from the natural beauty of the state; it harms birds, animals, and fish.  It can also be a danger to motorists, bikers, hikers, picnickers, and swimmers.  It degrades the quality of life in the state, and it hinders opportunities for economic development.

~ Litter is composed of 59% paper, 16% cans, 6% bottles, 6% plastics, and 13% miscellaneous.  The items found most often are fast food wrappers, followed up by aluminum beer cans and then soda cans.

~ Although cigarette butts are not considered when addressing litter cleanup programs, they are the most littered item in the world and are toxic to the environment.

Keep America Beautiful (kab.org) also has some excellent information and resources regarding the problem of littering.  Here are a couple of details:

Over 51 billion pieces of litter land on U.S. roadways each year. Most of it, 46.6 billion pieces, is less than four inches, according to KAB’s 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study.  That’s 6,729 items per mile.

  • Community economy and quality of life suffer. The presence of litter in a community takes a toll on quality of life, property values, and housing prices.  KAB’s 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study found that litter in a community decreases property values 7%. 

  • Litter has environmental consequences. Wind and weather, traffic, and animals move litter into gutters, lawns and landscaped areas, alleyways, and parking structures.  Debris may be carried by storm drains into local waterways, with potential for serious environmental contamination.

Give little guys like these a bright future - Don't litter!

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