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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Take Action: Start a No-Littering Campaign

Stuck in Midtown Atlanta traffic on West Peachtree Street and surrounded by half-built skyscrapers, I waited in my car for the traffic light to turn green. It was a Friday afternoon and traffic was super thick, like caramel topping on an ice-cream sundae. I was sandwiched between two monstrous SUV’s. The fumes from one car swept into my nostrils, which made me believe that someone needed to get an oil change.

I was at least entertained by the SUV driver in front of me, chomping down on a burger and fries. I could see him through his side view mirror “going to town” with his meal. I thought to myself, how much I needed a well-deserved vacation. I continued to wait patiently listening to my radio lose NPR’s signal.

Then all of a sudden, just before the light turned green, the driver in front of me tossed his fast food bag out of the car window. In slow motion, I watched the bag fall on the street and items dispersed like confetti. Absolutely appalled, I honked the horn and began shouting at him; “Throw your bag in the trash can!” I starting pointing my finger and yelling, “that’s a No, No.” My disbelief turned into anger.

According to Missouri’s “No More Trash Campaign,” fast food waste is the number one cause of liter in the country. Missouri, along with many other states have hefty fines for people who litter. People found guilty of littering in Georgia can be charged with a misdemeanor. Litterbugs can also be punished by a fine not less than $100 and not more than $1,000. Some court orders require violators to clean up littered areas throughout the city.

Perplexing to me why people litter, this topic made me play the devil’s advocate.

People liter for the following reasons:
• Don't Care
• People have not been taught to dispose of trash properly
• Violators assume that it’s the job of others to pick up trash
• People are unaware that they are littering

The repercussions of littering are paramount. We need to educate and encourage people to stop littering. The Clear Air Council web site states, “In the U.S., 4.39 pounds of trash per day and up to 56 tons of trash per year are created by the average person.” Furthermore, “Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour.”

You can help! Let’s take back our communities from these litterbugs. Visit the Keep America Clean web site at www.kab.org. The site lists nearly 1,000 local affiliates and participating organizations. Also visit, Clean Sweep USA to teach your children about the importance of keeping America and the entire world clean.
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