February is a great month to show some love to our community. Sure, you can donate something, generously tip your waiter, or surprise a friend with an old-fashioned Valentine’s day card. But, here’s something you can do to show some love to the whole community – pick up litter!
Litter, trash in the wrong place, is an eye-sore that hurts property values and community pride. That crinkled up wrapper on the side walk, the drink cup with no lid stuck in a storm drain, and the rain soaked paper bag from a fast food joint really should be in a trash can. Once trash is loose and out in the open it’s very difficult to clean it all up.
While litter may be out of sight and out of mind for the individual who threw the trash there – it’s still there long after it’s forgotten by the owner. Next thing you know you’re outside walking your dog stepping over half-empty cans, smelling cigarette butts, and rancid fast food leftovers. Or worse yet, fending off a stray animal trying to get the last bits of a half-eaten apple.
Why people litter is a complicated issue with no easy answer. Lack of convenience, hard to find trash receptacles, bad habits, and even just plain laziness can all contribute to the accumulation of litter in public spaces like roads and parks. Sometimes litter is unintentional too, like when a wrapper flies out of an open car window.
But in the end, litter is still trash in the wrong place that needs to be picked up by someone. Picking up litter is not as bad as it sounds, especially if you have the right tools. All you need is a small bag (plastic or reusable work fine) to carry with you while you’re on a walk. When you spot the stray can or paper take a moment to pick it up and put it in your bag. Once your bag is full take the litter to the next available trash can, or it none is available, take it home to dispose of in your garbage cart.
When you pick up litter, and someone sees you do it, you may inspire them to do the same. Or at least, next time they’re about to throw something on the ground they’ll think twice. And, it’s good to know that litter attracts more litter. But, when a place looks clean and cared for the amount of litter decreases and even disappears completely.
In an effort to encourage residents to reduce the amount of litter in the community Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful is highlighting its educational campaign called “Love it, don’t trash it!” this month. Visit www.keepdaltonwhitfieldbeautiful.org and like the Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful page on Facebook to learn about the negative impacts of litter, and the action steps you can take to prevent it. If you pick up litter this month 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. Periodically collect the recyclables and waste from inside your home and place them in the trash cart or recycling bin for collection outdoors.
Show your neighborhood some love too by taking just ten minutes to pick up any trash you may find along the sidewalk. Carry a plastic shopping bag with you to pick up 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.
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.