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Don't be clueless: Throw away trash, clean up litter
Keep Liberty Beautiful
Keep Liberty Beautiful logo
Sara Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful.

Litter is a serious issue for us at Keep Liberty Beautiful. We know how devastating out-of-control litter is for the quality of life of a community.

If you think litter is not that big of a deal, then consider the following concerns that are the direct result of litter.

Litter cleanup is costly for all of us who pay taxes. It also affects economic development. Litter also causes water pollution and harms our natural resources and the animals and aquatic life that live in our natural resources.

Litter hurts our neighborhoods and property values. Littered neighborhoods can result in property values being lowered by as much as 15 percent and often lead to more serious crimes, as noted in the broken windows theory and many other subsequent research studies.

If minor symptoms of neighborhood neglect are left unattended, such as broken windows, graffiti and litter, neighborhoods can ultimately fall victim to much more serious crimes that can impact property values and lead to a loss of quality of life.

Now if these are not enough reasons for you to take this concern seriously, then I give up. Littering — and even ignoring litter problems — is for the clueless.

Careless and clueless people create litter. People generally litter when they don’t feel a sense of ownership of an area, like along roads, in parks and in abandoned areas.

Research has shown that the most likely person to litter, regardless of race, income and education level, is a male between the ages of 18-25.

But littering is not limited to any age group, income level, sex or even educational level. Unfortunately, clueless people exist in all these groups. Have these folks ever heard of trash cans and litter bags?

So what do we do about it? Here are some quick and easy ways to prevent litter:

• Keep a litter bag in your car — and use it.

• Hang on to litter until you can dispose of it in a garbage receptacle. I am always suspicious of people with really clean car interiors.

• Report litterbugs, even the ones who are "oblivious" and let trash blow out of their truck beds. Heads up, folks: that truck bed is not a trash can. More than 60 percent of the litter on our roads is probably being blown out of vehicles. That is an easy fix if we are not clueless. Secure your trash and other items in your truck bed and cab.

• Make sure your trash cans and recycle bins have tight-fitting lids.

• Encourage others to properly dispose of trash.

• Encourage your neighbors, clubs, co-workers or families to join together and adopt your neighborhood or your street or join you in an area cleanup, like the upcoming Great American Cleanup events. "Adopting" an area can significantly reduce future litter because people litter less in maintained areas. For Adopt Liberty or more Great American Cleanup information, contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful.

• Look for ways to beautify your neighborhood and community, including landscaping and repairing fences. Attractive, maintained neighborhoods are littered less and research shows that they are usually safer, too.

• Don’t forget your workplace. Provide plenty of containers with good lids for garbage and recycling bins.

Cleaning up litter, planting green spaces, cleaning up neighborhood eyesores, removing graffiti and planting flower or vegetable gardens in our neighborhoods and public spaces are all ways to improve the places where we live.

You can make a difference by organizing a local neighborhood effort or by participating in organized cleanup events. Our next citywide cleanup day is in Hinesville on April 28, but plenty of groups are doing cleanups in their neighborhoods and schools and work locations every week.

Of course, real change requires lots of "people power," which includes you. Everybody can make a difference, male or female, youngsters and "oldsters," individuals and families, nonprofit organizations and businesses.

If you want our community to be cleaner, prettier, healthier and safer, now is your time to do something about it. Please contact us if you are interested in doing your part and say, "yes," when someone calls you for your help.

Do you want to stop litter in its tracks? Then don’t be careless or clueless. Make a difference this spring by getting involved.

We also need volunteers to help implement our 12th annual Earth Day Celebration from 3:30-6:30 p.m. April 20 at the YMCA Fields on Mary Lou Drive. This event is our largest environmental education event each year, and we rely on local partner and volunteers to make this event happen.

If you care about the environment and you also like to have fun, even when it requires work, then volunteering for Earth Day is a perfect match for you. Just contact us for more details.

Contact us at keeplibertycountybeautiful@gmail.com, 912-880-4888 and www.keeplibertybeautiul.org to register for a cleanup or to help with our 12th annual Earth Day Celebration on April 20.

Want to learn more about the effect of litter and debris on our waterways? The Ocean Conservancy is having a Town Hall Conference Call Meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday. Talk live with Trash Free Seas Program expert and director Nick Mallos about your concerns and ways to keep our oceans healthy and thriving.

To register, RSVP at https://oceanconservancy.org/tthtrash/ or call 855-756-7520, ext. 38289#.

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