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Inaugural litter was historic, too
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Last Tuesday was truly a historic day as the first African-American president took the oath of office. Record crowds attended the inauguration. Unfortunately, the litter left behind was also historic. According to an article in the Washington Post by Petula Dvorak, Washington garbage trucks hauled away more than 130 tons of garbage after the inauguration of President Obama. National Park Service workers picked up almost 100 tons on the National Mall and near the White House.
Most of the garbage receptacles had evidently been removed for security reasons. Security concerns are certainly understandable for an event of this nature, but it is unfortunate that some method for disposing of garbage wasn’t in place.
According to park service officials, the mountain of rubbish left behind eclipsed the average 17 tons usually accumulated at annual Fourth of July events. The litter generated at all other events ever held on the mall paled in comparison with what was left Tuesday.
Litter and debris included used handwarmer packets, bottles, food, newspapers, blankets, gloves and coolers. Loads of Obama hats, Obama socks, Obama bags and other Obama paraphernalia also decorated the streets. Many street vendors just left their trash and supplies where they had set up shop. I hope they never get another permit.
Through the night, more than 100 city workers on double and triple shifts tackled the debris on the streets while 300 park service employees and 100 volunteers combed the grassy expanse of the mall.
The city used 20 street sweepers to push aside the litter. Twelve leaf vacuums sucked up the garbage in giant tubes and 12 compactors followed, making the debris more manageable. The rest — papers, cups and blankets — had to be picked up by hand. What a tremendous job to accomplish in a matter of hours.
We certainly never have community events that rival a presidential inauguration, but when we do have events, keep in mind that they do not have to end up a littered mess. We can all take responsibility to prevent litter at events by following the old adage for parks: Whatever you take into the park, take it out, too.
We also have event recycling equipment that can be set up at local events to collect items, like plastic bottles and aluminum cans, so those items can be recycled.
The system, if used effectively, can reduce the amount of litter at a gathering and help items that would otherwise end up in a landfill find their way to a recycling center.
So, if you are an event sponsor or planner, please contact the Keep Liberty Beautiful office at 368-4888 or for information about having recycling equipment at your next gathering.
The rest of us need to remember that when we’re at a community event, we shouldn’t throw our trash on the ground because there’s no garbage can nearby. Locate an event official to find a disposal point or just be a good citizen and hang onto your trash until you can dispose of it properly.
Tuesday was truly a significant day, but it could have been a much cleaner day with a little personal responsibility on the part of those attending the ceremony. Wouldn’t that have been a great tribute to a new American leader?

Upcoming Keep Liberty Beautiful events:
• Through Feb. 15, telephone book recycling. Several drop-off locations for phone books and large catalogs will be available around the county. For more information, contact Keep Liberty County Beautiful at 368-4888 or
• Through Feb. 11, live oak photo competition and exhibit. Entry information is available at and as well as the Coastal Courier’s Web site. All entries must be delivered during Feb.6-11.
• Jan. 29 at noon: Progress Through People Luncheon. The discussion topic will be the value of urban forestry for businesses. For information, call 368-4888 or 368-4445.

Swida is the executive director of Keep Liberty County Beautiful. For more information, contact her at 368-4888 or
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