(Published on Wednesday, February 17, 2016 in The Daily Citizen, Dalton, GA.)
Recycle & Reuse: Love It, Don't Trash It
During the month of February show Whitfield County some love by helping to prevent litter. Litter, trash in the wrong place, is completely preventable. In fact, it’s easier and less expensive to stop litter from happening in the first place than it is trying to clean it all up after it’s along the side of the road. Litter can have negative effects on the environment harming wildlife, diminishing our water supply, and even reducing property values. Not to mention it just looks bad – really bad.
In an effort to encourage residents to reduce the amount of litter in the community Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful has launched an educational campaign called “Love it, don’t trash it!”. Residents have the opportunity to learn about the negative impacts of litter, and about action steps they can take to prevent litter in the first place. If you cleanup litter or do one of the recommended action steps take a photo and share it on your favorite social media site with the hashtag #livelitterfree.
Here are a few of the tips you can implement starting in your own home where you’ll have most control over what happens to your trash. Get started by finding out which materials you can recycle and which need to be disposed of. Set up indoor recycling bins and trash cans in different rooms of your home. Besides having bins in the kitchen consider adding some to the bathroom. Products like plastic bottles for liquid soap can be recycled. Periodically collect the recyclables and waste from inside your home and place them in the trash cart or recycling bin for collection outdoors.
When taking your trash cart to the curb make sure that all trash bags are tied securely and placed inside the can so that the lid closes completely. Open lids equal exposed trash which means trash can be blown out or fall out onto the road. If you have curbside recycling place light weight items at the bottom of your bin and heavier ones on top to prevent recyclables from falling out. On the same day you take you trash out to the curb pickup any trash you may see in your front yard and put that in the appropriate container.
Show your neighborhood some love too by taking just ten minutes to pickup any trash you may find along the sidewalk. Carry a plastic shopping bag with you to pickup litter as you enjoy a walk with your pet. If you have children, challenge them to find ten littered items and pick those up. Reward the ones who find ten items the fastest, or start a scavenger hunt for different types of litter. If you have a dog that you frequently take on walks outside plan to collect your pet’s waste. Pet waste is litter too and should be removed and disposed of in the trash.
While traveling in your vehicle, either to run errands locally or on a long road trip, be prepared to prevent litter on the go. Having a small trash bag or plastic shopping bag in your vehicle will make it easier to collect trash in the car. This will discourage passengers from throwing trash out the window which results in litter along the side of the road. When you arrive at your destination, or get back home, properly dispose of the trash collected while in the car. If you smoke you can place an ash receptacle in your vehicle to collect ash and cigarette butts. When you arrive at your next stop find a receptacle to empty the waste into.
When taking your family to a local park carry out what you bring in. Food wrappers, drink bottles, left over food, and diapers can all be collected and taken home. Or deposit them all at the next available trash bin. If the trash bin at the park is overflowing, take your trash home for proper disposal instead of adding to the pile and causing more litter on the ground. Show your favorite park some love by picking up litter, even if it’s not yours, and throwing it in a trash bin.
Business owners can also show some love to Whitfield County this month. Simple actions like keeping the front of the property clean and dock doors swept and tidy can help keep litter from finding it’s way onto the road. Encourage employees to properly dispose of or recycle their waste, plant flowers at the entrance of the building to make it look beautiful, provide designated smoking areas with ash receptacles, and provide clearly label trash and recycling bins so the materials reach the correct destination after disposal.
Liz Swafford is the Recycling and Education Program Coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority. Contact her at 706-278-5001, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.