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Litter costs you even if you don't realize it

Keep Liberty Beautiful

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POSTED: October 1, 2013 2:30 p.m.

I don’t understand the mindset of someone who litters. What are they thinking?
Are they that lazy that they cannot find a trash can or secure garbage bags and items in their vehicles? Or at least hang on to that cigarette butt until it can be discarded properly? I just don’t get it.  
I suspect that they think their litter doesn’t matter because it usually is not their property that they are littering. I am here to tell you that if you litter, you are paying for it — and so are the rest of us.
Here are some facts and figures from a study at www.kab.org:
• Litter cleanup costs in the United States total more than $11.5 billion each year. Businesses actually have to pick up a tab of $9.1 billion to keep their properties clean. So the next time you wonder why products cost so much when you are shopping, remember these businesses have to incorporate those clean-up costs in their sales.
• Those of us who still pay taxes in the United States pay more than $1.3 billion through our states, cities and counties just to clean up litter.
• Educational institutions spend approximately $241 million annually for litter abatement. Now can’t we all agree that all of these dollars could be used more wisely if we could just get people to manage their trash appropriately?  
Our economy could use a break — we could all use a break — so please stop littering and let’s reduce these costs!
The ironic part is that litter and littering is decreasing in many areas around the United States, including our county. That is great, but there is so much more that can be done if we can get people to take responsibility for their own actions.
The sad thing is that there are many other costs that add up because of the consequences of the actions of these lazy litterers.
Consider these compelling consequences:
• 36 percent of business-development officials say that litter impacts a company’s decision to locate in a community. That has been a factor before here in our county. It hurts the whole community when we lose potential jobs in our area.
• 93 percent of home owners say a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value and influence their decision to purchase a property.  
• 55 percent of Realtors think that litter reduces property value by 9 percent. Sixty-six percent of property appraisers would reduce a home’s value if it was in a littered area.
Litter has an impact on potential tourism revenues. If you think that only resort areas would be affected by that, think again. Tourism is the second-largest industry in Georgia. Liberty County has the historical, cultural and natural resources to attract tourism dollars, if developed and marketed appropriately. Our community could benefit from this major industry if we present those resources attractively, including having a clean, visually appealing community.
The environmental consequences of litter can have economic impacts as well with restorations of damaged ecosystems and polluted waterways, injuries to wildlife and even possible injuries to human health. The research results noted are from the 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost study executed by Midatlantic Solid Waste Consultants for Keep America Beautiful. Further study results can be found at www.kab.org/research09 .
We cannot afford to take litter for granted — not here in Liberty County and nowhere else in the country. Our actions or inactions to fight litter affect all of us.  
Our choices now will have an impact on generations that follow us.

Upcoming KLB events
• Monday — Deadline for accepting Win-dex Awards nominations
• Oct. 24 — PTP Luncheon with Walter Reeves, Georgia’s garden expert
• Oct. 26 — Eighth annual Rivers Alive waterway clean-ups
• Contact Keep Liberty Beautiful for more information or check out our website at www.keeplibertybeautiful.org

 

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