Litter Says A Lot About A Community – So Who Cares? – Part 3

By: Lynne Hart

My last two articles were full of information about the pressure points needed to change behaviors and the many things we must all do to ensure we are not contributing to the litter problem.

So who cares? I don’t know. What about you? Do you care?

We are in this together, whether we care or not. A littered community just attracts more litter. Trash attracts more trash. In the same way, cleanliness attracts cleanliness and beauty encourages more beauty. Closing our eyes to the problem tells others that we are okay with criminal behavior. Yes, littering and illegal dumping are against the law. When we overlook these crimes, it tells others that we will most likely overlook other crimes. It is proven that clean, landscaped communities attract less litter and less crime in general. Clean communities send a message that the residents care about the places they live and work.

So who cares in Athens and Limestone County? If we don’t care, then we must stop complaining about the litter in the ditches, our parks, and waterways. It is not solely the government’s responsibility to clean up litter. Citizens cause it and should be involved in cleaning it up. It is EVERYONE’S responsibility. So if we as citizens don’t truly care, then let’s just take the litter laws off the books and let the litter fly!

So who does care?

I would like to pose the following questions to each individual citizen of Athens-Limestone County, our mayor and council members, our county commission chairman and county commissioners, to our sheriff and chief of police, to streets and sanitation workers, and those responsible for county trash collection. I challenge us all to answer the questions that pertain to us personally or in our positions within the city and county, and to answer honestly and with thought.

  • Will you bend down and pick up a can or bottle when you see it, or do you step over it?
  • Will you get involved and take on an Adopt-A-Spot, join an organized cleanup, or organize one yourself?
  • Will you ensure all protections are taken to be sure city/county vehicles are not adding to the litter problem?
  • Will you institute Rule #2? It is everyone’s job to pick up litter, from the top down.
  • Will you take a moment and stop your vehicle (safely, of course) to pull up illegal signs or yank them off telephone poles? Individuals and city and county employees have the right to remove illegal signs from right-of-ways and utility poles.
  • Will you go back and remove yard sale and lost pet signs from utility poles once the event is over or the pet is found?
  • Will you encourage your family members, students, club members, and others to get involved in creating a cleaner community?
  • Will you speak up when you see a friend or family member littering, putting loose items in their truck bed, or transporting an uncovered load?
  • Will you preach about good stewardship in regard to protection of God’s creation?
  • Will you take a few minutes to report a witnessed litter incident to the litter hotline 256-233-8000?
  • Will you take a few minutes to speak with a store manager to make him aware that the store’s dumpsters are open and causing a litter situation?
  • Will you make the arrests necessary when illegal dumping or littering culprits are caught? Do you care enough to impose the fine to discourage the behavior?
  • Will you teach your children that nature is a beautiful thing that should be respected and cared for?
  • Will you speak with city and county officials when you see equipment in disrepair?

The questions could go on and on, but I think the point has been made. Either we care or we don’t.

KALB staff members visit every school in Athens and Limestone County, but we have many classrooms to which we have not been invited. Let us address your students. Staff are also available to speak at your club meeting or employee gathering. Invite us.

We are also in need of many more volunteers to join KALB for our Elk River Cleanup and County-Wide Trash Attack on March 9.
So who cares?
By: Lynne Hart
Executive Coordinator – Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful