I have a challenge for our community. Our Mayor Ronnie Marks recently held a meeting with key people to discuss how to solve the litter problems in Athens. He cares and so should we.
There were several issues discussed: Motorists that litter from their cars or from the beds of their trucks, overflowing dumpsters at business locations, overflowing residential garbage cans with loose trash that gets caught by the wind, and littering pedestrians. That's a lot of problems to solve.
It wouldn't be difficult if everyone realized that it is each of us that must take responsibility. I spoke with every student from first through fourth grade at Julian Newman recently about this very subject. When shown pictures of litter, they were disgusted. When shown photos of the harm that litter can cause, they were sad. When given the opportunity to speak with an Athens Police Officer about the fact that litter is a crime, several students shared with him what they see their parents doing — tossing cigarettes, fast food wrappers, empty cans and bottles.
The children agreed that their parents don't like it when they leave their stuff laying around the house — expecting mom to clean it up. They understood that tossing out your trash because you think someone will come along and clean it up is the same thing!
So here is my challenge: I would like to invite each person reading this to do something that will make a difference. Here are some suggestions.
• Adopt-a-Spot. Let's find the most littered areas in the city and take them on. Let us know what spot you'd like to adopt and KALB will provide you with trash bags, gloves, safety vests, and some litter grabbers.
• Stop littering: If you are a litterbug, STOP! Littering used to be the norm. Most people just didn't think about it. It is no longer acceptable to litter our beautiful streets. If you think your neighbors don't care that you litter, think again.
• Secure your garbage: Placing garbage in bags before putting it in your garbage can keep it from flying out when the can is dumped. This is especially true for light items such as plastic bags and Styrofoam.
• Recycle: Recycling reduces the amount of trash you place in your can, therefore it won't overflow. Start by recycling paper, plastic, and aluminum cans ... then work your way up. Need a recycling bin? Call 256-233-8000.
• Contain trash in your truck bed: When you toss cans, bottles, and paper in your truck bed with the intention of throwing it away at home, you may not realize how much gets caught by the wind and ends up on the roadways. Even though you don't mean it, it is still a crime.
• Keep your butts in your car: Please dispose of cigarette butts properly. They are full of dangerous chemicals that leach into our ground water and waterways, and they can easily start grass fires in the dry summer months. Trillions are littered each year and that really adds up to a lot of poisons.
I hope you will take this seriously because it is a serious problem. Let's take pride in Athens, OUR city. Ask Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful, your mayor, or your City Council representative how you can help.
KALB can be reached at 256-233-8728.
Lynne Hart is executive coordinator of Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful.
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