2.10.2009

Litter

Guest Blogger: Michigan Mary
So I have to admit, there is something about my new state that has really saddened me. When I first considered moving to North Carolina, one of the most compelling attributes was the state’s natural beauty and scenery.

Maybe in my initial trips to the state I was so awestruck by the aforementioned beauty that I failed to see all the litter that floods the sides of highways and streets down here. The more I travel in the metro-Raleigh area, the more disappointed I am by this persistent and pervasive issue. I mean really people, how hard is it to keep your trash in your car until you get to a receptacle?

The other day as I was leaving work I saw someone just toss their fast food bag out the window. I was appalled by the action, but didn’t know what to do. I recognize that I am coming from a smaller community and entering a larger urban area. Inherently there are more citizens and thus there is a higher propensity that trash will accumulate on the sides of the road. However, during my university tenure I lived in larger communities that simply did not have this extent of a problem disposing of their trash.

So what should be done? I’m ready to begin cruising the highways with my garbage bag, attempting to collect these various items. Seriously, there could be some valuable things out there with the rest of that junk, don’t you think?

I am sure to find something amongst that vast pile of “less desirable” objects! At first I thought that the issue was so pervasive because there was not an effective way to clean up all the garbage. I am by no means implying that Michiganders do not pollute – but if they do litter at the same rate as individuals down here then the trash is definitely disposed of in a more efficient manner than in North Carolina.

I thought about the “adopt-a-highway program” that Michigan has where individuals essentially take on a portion of the highway as their own responsibility to clean and maintain. A plaque along the side of the road designates who is responsible for this section of the highway. I thought a similar program could certainly be a fix for North Carolina.

However, much to my dismay, I was informed that the state already has this program running and has since 1988. So why is there such a consistent issue with litter? Is the program just not efficiently run, is there not adequate funding for its desired initiatives?

In relation to other state initiatives this program has the ability to be a relatively low-cost program. Other people are volunteering their services so the state only needs to supply to bags to collect the materials and a sign to designate who is responsible for clean up.

Needless to say, I have been left kind of scratching my head on this one; does anyone have any suggestions on how North Carolina and other states can reduce this pollution problem? The moment I anticipated moving to Raleigh after my undergraduate studies, I was so proud to tell my friends and family in Michigan about this fantastic state I was going to make my new home. Can’t we all have enough pride in the state of North Carolina to throw away trash and recycle our goods?

1 comment:

Dodge This! said...

Michigan Mary, you are absolutely right about the litter problem in the Raleigh area, especially along the highways. I wonder if the "litterbug gene," if such a thing exists, switches on during adolescence. Every first-grader that I've ever met knows that litter is bad, so why is there so much litter? I think something happens to some people as they grow up that makes them think littering is okay, perhaps because someone else will come along to clean it up.