What's up with trash on our roads?

What’s up with trash on our roads?

A reader asked what can be done about all of the trash along Highway 20, and frankly, about all of our county roads.

I returned last week from a quick trip to the Hill Country, and I have to say, I didn’t see nearly as much litter there as I did upon my return to Kaufman County.

And it doesn’t look like a wrapper here and there tossed out the window, it looks like people toss entire trash bags on the side of our local roads.

Should we change the Texas state flower from bluebonnets to Styrofoam cups?

I checked www.dontmesswithtexas.org and found some interesting information.

Litter in Texas is a big problem, and we’ve been hard at work researching the cost of litter in Texas. Using everything from behavior and attitude studies to visible litter studies, we’ve been collecting data (and litter) to best assess how to approach the problem head-on and determine the most effective methods to end litter in Texas forever.

LITTER FACT #1: 1 in 4 Texans admits to littering in the past year.

LITTER FACT #2: Approximately 435 million pieces of visible litter accumulate on Texas roadways each year.

LITTER FACT #3: The most common forms of litter are food/organic material, cigarette butts, and small pieces of paper—receipts, gum wrappers.

LITTER FACT #4: 71% of litter consists of microlitter that is not easily seen on roadways, such as cigarette butts, straws, and gum wrappers.

LITTER FACT #5: Tobacco trash is the most common form of litter found on Texas roadways.

LITTER FACT #6: You can be fined $500 every time you litter in Texas. And, if what you toss weighs more than five pounds, you may have to pay up to $2,000.

LITTER FACT #7: Tire debris is the second largest component of litter and is pervasive across all areas of Texas.

LITTER FACT #8: If every person in Texas picked up just two pieces of trash every month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year.

LITTER FACT #9: 62% of Texas smokers admit to tossing their cigarette butts out of the window of their cars. Please keep your butts in the vehicle at all times. Thanks.

LITTER FACT #10: Litter is trash that is not disposed of properly in a trashcan. Apple cores are litter too!

So our local litterbugs tossing out a bag of trash weighing more than five pounds can face a fine of up to $2,000. That’s a wallop to the wallet.

There’s also a link to report littering, at http://www.dontmesswithtexas.org/get-involved/report-a-litterer. They request a license plate number, make and model of vehicle, and location.

So then what?

“TxDOT compares the information through the Department of Motor Vehicles registration database, and when an exact match is located, we send the litterer a Don’t mess with Texas litterbag along with a letter reminding them to keep their trash off of our roads. And you can feel good about doing something to clean up our beloved Lone Star State.”

I guess that’s a start, but honestly, I would like to do more. Like hose people down for littering. Or ask them to go pick up a mile of roadway.

Do you have better ideas? Please send them my way and I’ll print them.

Thanks for reading.

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