The Christmas season is over, but you might have noticed that local motorists still are “decorating” our roads with holiday litter.
The Christmas season, unfortunately, is the trashiest time of year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans throw away a lot more trash than during any other time of the year.
When we do our Christmas shopping, most of us are not thinking, “I wonder how much garbage I can purchase today.” But depending on the products and gifts that you purchase, that’s at least partly what you are doing.
Think about it: heavily packaged gifts, wrapping paper, ribbons and bows, holiday cards, envelopes, food, food and more food. Our garbage really can add up. Unfortunately, a lot of this extra trash ends up decorating our highways and roads as blown litter.
Folks who might never think of tossing trash out the windows of their vehicles often forget that when they toss trash or unsecured garbage bags in the back of a truck, wind can make that trash take flight.
Trucks and other vehicles with unsecured loads account for most of the litter that accumulates on our roads. We all have seen trash blowing out of commercial trucks as well the vehicles of those local citizens who think of the back of their vehicles as mobile trashcans. It might seem handy to toss fast-food wrappers, cups, etc., in truck beds, but even at moderate speeds, garbage and empty containers can become airborne. Then they end up as litter on our roads.
This litter does not just spoil our scenery. Debris on our roads severely can affect wildlife, which might mistake it for food. Eventually the litter also can end up in our waterways, affecting the water quality. This roadside litter is one of the most problematic causes of water pollution.
Litter and debris can cause serious road hazards as well. The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported that roadway debris contributes to a number of fatalities each year in Georgia.
The enforcement of unsecured loads is one ways to increase motorist safety. There have been several times when boxes and other items have fallen out of vehicles in front of me. The worst item was a piece of wood that blew off a truck in front of me (going more than 65 miles per hour) and hit my windshield. Luckily, that situation turned out all right for me, but that is not always the case for those who are victims of other people’s litter and carelessness.
Litter caused by unsecured loads is costly for taxpayers. City, county and state governments have to spend an enormous amount of money to clean up the mess that litter creates.
In addition to the government cleanups, local volunteers give an enormous amount of their time to assist in keeping our community clean.
In the 2011 fiscal year, nearly 2,300 Keep Liberty Beautiful volunteers spent more than 9,000 hours cleaning up streets and roads throughout our community. Just think what these people could have volunteered to do with their time if people had been more responsible for their own trash.
Litter cannot be solved by the cleanup process alone. The heart of the issue lies in holding accountable those who litter intentionally by directly tossing trash on the ground as well as those who cause it by letting items blow out of their vehicles.
Those who let litter blow or fall out of their vehicles “accidently on purpose” or whatever still are responsible for their actions and the consequences that affect all of us who live here.
All of us share a responsibility in keeping our community clean and beautiful.
Garbage and other items in vehicles should be secured. The use of garbage bags or containers to haul trash and the use of tarps, nets and/or covers to secure items in trucks can make a significant difference in the amount of litter accumulating on our roads. We should all do it. After all, it is the law.
Don’t use your truck as a trash can. When you do, you make our roads a trash can, too.
Upcoming KLB events
• Phone book and catalog recycling drop-off sites will be available throughout the county from Jan. 15 through Feb. 15.
• Feb. 18 is Georgia Arbor Day. Plan now to reserve a tree to plant with your family, neighbors, organization or business. Trees help to beautify our community and also make for a healthier and cooler place to live.
For more information or to volunteer for any of these events, call Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880 4888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.