March 25, 2009
As Mother Nature does her part to beautify our lovely corner of the world, humans are organizing to do likewise.
All this week, the city has been collecting discarded appliances and furniture. Today, crews will be working areas between Highway 69 and Lehmberg Road. On Thursday, residents living north of Bluecutt get their chance. For more information, call the Action Center at 329-5147.
On Saturday, volunteers will walk through neighborhoods picking up litter and debris. The event, sponsored by the Link''d Young Professionals, will begin at the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market at 9 a.m. To participate, call the Link at 328-8369, or just show up (Second Avenue and Second Street North).
While we appreciate these efforts, we''d love to see a more substantive, ongoing approach taken toward solving our litter problem. Roadside litter along city streets and county roads broadcasts a devastating message about Lowndes County: "An ignorant and uncaring people live here."
When it comes to litter eradication, Mississippi is at the top of another unenviable list.
Mississippi, by a long shot, has the worst record for litter eradication programs in the nation, based on results of a 2008 study, The American State Litter Scorecard, by Steve Spacek of Texas State University. Louisiana and Alabama round out the top three worst states. Quoting from the study: "Litter remains a danger to public health, safety and welfare throughout the United States ... Obviously, much work remains to be done by state public servants to combat littering leading to environment degradation."
We can write editorials until we''re blue in the face. We can educate school children about litter all day long. We can put up billboards on every major thoroughfare. But it''s not school children -- and we''d like to think readers of newspaper editorials -- who garnish our right-of-ways with fast food wrappers, drink cans and cigarette butts.
Until our elected and law enforcement officials and judges can find the backbone to insist that litterers be punished, this problem isn''t going to get fixed. At one time Columbus had a city employee, who among other things, sent letters to reported litterers.
How can we help?
We''d like to see Mayor Robert Smith and Supervisor President Harry Sanders announce an anti-litter initiative. Can''t you see the billboard: "Harry and Robert say, ''We''re not your Mama, pick up Lowndes County.''"
Downtown merchants and homeowners can better anticipate trash collection times instead of leaving their garbage for hours at curbside and on sidewalks.
Residents can pick up litter in the streets around their homes and apartments.
Walking down the street and see a piece of litter? Pick it up. It''s the easiest way to make the world a little bit cleaner, and, who knows, someone might see you and follow your example.
We all pay for litter. We pay for its removal, and we pay for the negative image it projects for our cities and counties. It''s a problem we have the power to fix. Why don''t we?
S. Spacek commented at 4/10/2009 8:53:00 PM:
Thank you for printing this story.
Unlike governors Jindal (Louisiana), Riley (Alabama) and Bebee (Arkansas), from neighboring states that also performed Worst, I notice Mr. Barbour and state officials--held ultimately responsible to eradicate litter from state-maintained properties--have failed to publicize the gravity of this problem, and remain strangely quiet and indifferent.
Mississippi's litter problem is also one of the nation's deadliest--over 30+ people are killed across the state annually in litter/debris-caused vehicle accidents (NHTSA).
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