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You Never Know Who Is Watching
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Karen Bell is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

When I came to my office the other day, I had an email message from Keep Athens-Clarke County Beautiful.  I thought it was strange because the subject line was “Report of a Littering Incident in Hinesville, GA.” The message contained a voice mail of a woman reporting that she saw a passenger in a car throwing trash out of their vehicle on Veterans Parkway.  It made me think of how many times I wish I could have pulled someone over or told someone who had littered that they should not have done that.  You never know who is watching you, and if you litter, you don’t know if you are encouraging someone like a young child to follow in your footsteps.  

I do remember this one time after a community event that I saw someone throw a cigarette butt out of their parked car window.  I was driving throw the parking lot when I saw them.  I stopped before I knew it and said, “Excuse me, did you know that cigarette butts are litter too.” The car door open, and this big, tall man got out and said, “What?” At that moment, I thought to myself, are you crazy, what are you thinking!  I took a deep breath and said, “My name is Karen Bell, and I am the Executive Director for Keep Liberty Beautiful, and I saw you drop your cigarette butt on the ground.” “Did you know that cigarette butts are the most harmful littered item in the world?”  

He looked at me, I just smiled back at him, and he told me he did not know that when he threw his cigarette butts on the ground that it was littering. On the seat next to me were two pamphlets about the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program left from the event and one each packet and car ashtrays left.  I got out of the truck and gave him the cigarette butt litter prevention information and the two ashtrays.  He picked up the cigarette butt off the ground and thanked me.  

That situation went OK, but I would not recommend anyone confronting somebody over trash.  The man’s answer did make me realize that some people don’t think throwing anything on the ground is wrong, so more education is needed.  So, today, I would like to talk about litter thrown from cars and how it is hurting our planet and killing animals.  In an online article published on April 04, 2018, by The Times, bottles act as traps for millions of tiny animals.  Tiny animals are dying each year after becoming trapped inside drinks cans and glass bottles thrown from cars.

Plastic bottles, which tend to be thrown away with their lids on or have pop-up tops, were found to pose a much smaller threat to wildlife.  Of the almost 2,200 drinks containers that were collected from roadside and ditches in a study, 115 were found to contain remains of small animals.  In studies by Graham Moates, the charity Keep Britain Tidy in the Journal of Litter and Environmental Quality, and Allison Ogden-Newton, they all had a common trend that discarded bottles and cans on the ground are harmful to the environment.  

The inside of your car can get messy in what seems like no time at all, especially if you have children or spend a lot of time traveling.  Keeping small garbage bags or containers inside your vehicle will help you collect trash as necessary. Using organizers will help you ensure anything you need to keep in your car has a particular spot.  In addition to collecting trash and clutter as you produce it, you should give your vehicle interior a monthly cleaning. Wipe down surfaces, vacuum crumbs, and other trash particles, and use a homemade carpet freshener to remove odors.

Here are a couple of ways to keeping your car clean and trash off the roadways:

1. Keep an empty tissue box filled with trash bags in your car. Keeping trash bags in your vehicle will help you collect trash as necessary instead of just tossing it onto the floor or roadways.  Among the most inexpensive options is to use an empty tissue box.  Fill it with plastic bags saved from trips to the grocery or convenience store, and grab a bag whenever you need one.

2. Use a cereal container to collect trash. If you’re not a fan of using disposable plastic bags, you can use a plastic or glass sealable food storage container.  Try sticking velcro strips to the bottom so you can secure the storage container to the floor. You can always line it with a trash bag to quickly dispose of the trash you’ve collected. To cut down on disposable plastic, just throw your garbage in it, empty it out into your home trash receptacle, and then wash it. Try using a container for recyclables and one for non-recyclable trash.

3. Purchase a car trash receptacle. Instead of using empty tissue boxes or cereal storage containers, you could always buy a trash can designed specifically for cars. Many models come with either strip that secures it to the car floor or straps that hang it from one of the front seats.  You can buy one online or find one at an auto or home improvement store.

4. Place cupcake liners inside cup holders. Cup holders are notorious for collecting all sorts of grime and bits of garbage. After cleaning them out, place a cupcake holder inside each, and then change them out periodically.  You can also purchase store-bought car cup holder coasters.

By making little changes, we can all make a difference here in Liberty County on litter.  By working together to make our community as clean and healthy as possible.  Join Keep Liberty Beautiful on Saturday, August 15, 2020, for another Great American Cleanup in Liberty County.  

You can sign up on our website, or contact us at (912) 880- 4888 or

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