Litter is not just ugly; it has major consequences for all of our pocketbooks.
I have never understood what people who litter are thinking. Are some people so lazy that they cannot find a trash can? Is it that much trouble to use a garbage bag or a litter bag for the garbage that accumulates in a vehicle? Is it really that hard to figure out that the ground is not a trash can for a cigarette butt?
And what are these people thinking who let litter just blow out of their trucks as they ride down the road? I just don’t get it. I suspect that they think their litter doesn’t matter, because it usually is not their property they are littering. Well, let me clarify: If you litter, you are paying for it — and so are the rest of us.
The following research results are from the 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost study executed by MidAtlantic Solid Waste Consultants for Keep America Beautiful:
• Litter clean-up costs in the United States total more than $11.5 billion each year. Businesses pay $9.1 billion to keep their properties clean. So the next time you wonder why products cost so much, remember these businesses have to incorporate these costs in their sales, too. We who still pay taxes spend more than $1.3 billion through our states, cities and counties to clean up litter, too. Educational institutions spend approximately $241 million annually for litter abatement. Now, can’t we all agree that all these dollars could be used more wisely in these trying economic times? Our economy really could use a break. So you litterers: Please stop littering, and help us reduce the gazillion dollars we are paying to clean up your messes.
The ironic part is that litter and littering have been decreasing in many areas, including our county. We monitor how much litter is collected at volunteer cleanups, as well as by the county roadside pick-ups.
We also do an annual scan of 18 areas in our county to analyze how much litter is out there. The scan is like a snapshot of the same locations at the same time of year, and it is ranked on a scale from 1 (little litter) to 4 (full of litter and debris).
The scan analysis has improved each of the past six years.
• Thirty-six percent of business-development officials say litter impacts a company’s decision to locate in a community. That hurts our whole community when we lose potential jobs in our area.
• Ninety-three percent of homeowners say a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value and influence their decision to purchase a property.
•Sixty-six percent of property appraisers would reduce a home’s value if it was 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 when developed and marketed appropriately. Our community can benefit if we present those resources attractively, including having clean streets and roads, clean sidewalks and gutters, clean and attractive businesses, and attractive venues.
• Litter causes damaged ecosystems and polluted waterways, injuries to wildlife and aquatic life, and even possible hazards to human health.
Litter cannot be taken for granted. Our actions or inactions cost all of us.
The consequences of today’s litter have an impact on future generations; our children and grandchildren will pay for the choices litterers make today.
Please stop littering.
Further study results can be found at www.kab.org/research09.
Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events
Sept. 8-15: National Planting Day Activities — to promote planting native plants in our community.
Sept. 8: St. Catherine’s Island Beach Sweep — Space is limited for this annual cleanup event so contact us today!
Sept. 15: Recycle It! Fair and Native Plant GiveAway — from 9-11 a.m. at the Liberty County Health Department on Highway 84
For information on any of these upcoming events, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 610-3968 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.