Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Losing Out to Litterbugs

Posted March 5, 2007

Do we need a more aggressive anti litter campaign in NC? I think we do. I think we need a new focus, a new slogan and a new commitment to cleaning up the glut of garbage illegally hurled from passing vehicles onto our roads and highways.

I recently spent more than 10 hours on the road in North and South Carolina. I hate to admit it but South Carolina's highways seemed a lot cleaner. They have a Palmetto Prideways program which emphasizes zero tolerance for littering, a Litter Busters hotline and a statewide media campaign which underscores the fines and penalties associated with littering.

The Lone Star State took the fight against litterbugs to a new level with its "Don't Mess With Texas" campaign. I believe we need something like that in North Carolina. We need to not only use the carrot but also the stick in our approach to litterbugs. The state has a cute little mascot called Beauty-Fly intended to teach children early on how bad it is to litter. That's okay but lets get the adults' attention with some publicized fines, jail time and a creative campaign that will instill more pride in our landscape.

I will give a prize to the person who comes up with the best anti litter slogan. What do you think?  What should we do?

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  • tausband Apr 17, 2007

    People's definition of litter is absurd. I say roads are litter, fences are litter, power lines are litter. All of these things impact the environment to a greater degree than what I was recently charged with littering for: a glass bottle dropped in a field while walking. I never used to consider myself a litterbug, but after this recent citation I want no part in the hypocrisy of the state. I now find myself littering intentionally out of spite for the rotten legal infrastructure that we have created and accepted as a society. Perhaps, instead of creating landfills somewhere we don't live, which is moronic (what kind of argument can be made... this land is so well suited for littering over here?) we should reduce packaging and insist that the packaging we do use be more quickly biodegradable. When I drive down the highway, I'm not concerned about the aesthetics of my landscape... I'm on a black asphalt river filled with polluting cars... what's uglier than that?

  • urbudelar Mar 9, 2007

    Hi Bill,

    I read your blog on litter and I think it is a great idea!!! I have so much to say about litter it's hard for me to put it in just a few words. My husband and I have been picking up roadside litter since the early 80's and have come to the conclusion, roadside litter has many sources. We are not surprised at anything we find on the road.

    My slogan would be "Secure your load. Don't lose it on the road"

    One of the main contributors to roadside litter is debris blowing and falling from trucks. Someone with an unsecured load can strew trash and debris for miles. It’s a real safety hazard when it falls in the road. Nationwide, about 25,000 auto accidents are caused annually by debris blowing and falling from trucks, some accidents resulting in death to motorist. I think some tips on securing the load would be helpful. I'll start it by sharing a couple. My husband came up with this idea for a truck net to go in the back of our truck. We never have to

  • raybetty99 Mar 8, 2007

    I help keep 3 miles of roadside clean. Not counting the large items that obviously come from unsecured loads, plastic bottles, glass bottles and aluminum cans make up approximately 50 percent of the bulk of roadside trash we pick up with glass bottles creating the most weight. If these containers were dimes they wouldn't be on the road long.

  • raybetty99 Mar 8, 2007

    Let’s support a redeemable 10-cent deposit on beverage containers. Litter is accumulating on our roads daily which makes it impossible for inmates to keep them clean. The mowers will be coming through soon. Paper will be cut into bits and pieces. Glass bottles will be broken, plastic bottles and aluminum cans will be ripped apart leaving sharp edges. Most of the paper will gradually decompose. The plastic, aluminum and glass will not. These recyclable items will stay on the roadside until picked up or covered by grass and dirt.

    In addition to decreasing roadside litter, the 10-cent deposit on beverage containers will encourage household recycling. We have become a throw away society. It just does not make good sense to use our tax dollars to bury heavy glass bottles and other recyclables that do not deteriorate. No one wants a landfill in his or her neighborhood. In the long run, recycling increases the life of landfills,creates jobs, saves energy and natural resources.

  • raybetty99 Mar 8, 2007

    To help reduce roadside litter, let’s rally together and support the Beverage Container Deposit Bill “Litter Reduction Act of 2007” sponsored by Senator Doug Berger.
    In 1995, 1.7 million of our tax dollars was spent on roadside cleanup. This figure has increased to $16.3 million and our roads are still trashy. What is the figure going to be in the next 10 years?
    Roadside litter has many sources. Each source needs to be tackled separately. A deposit on beverage containers is not going to solve the litter problem but it will help. A value on these containers will be an incentive for litterbugs to hold on to these items and when they learn to do that, they will also hold on to their fast food trash. It will be an incentive for volunteers to help clean up litter which in the long run will decrease the amount of tax dollars being spent on roadside cleanup and give us cleaner roads restoring beauty to North Carolina.
    Recycling increases the life of landfills.

  • Judy Mar 8, 2007

    Bill, this is great that you are striking up a dialogue about the littering problem in North Carolina. Did you know that North Carolina state agencies and two nonprofit organizations work diligently every year to retrieve almost 12 million pounds of debris from our environment? That's the equivalent of almost 29,000 football fields five feet deep in trash each year. I like your contest idea and hope it generates something great. WRAL is a fabulous community partner with NC Big Sweep's fall cleanup, and I'd like to do more to prevent littering. Wouldn't it be great if we didn't have to have cleanups? Let's transform our State into a beautiful place that we're proud of.

  • urbudelar Mar 7, 2007

    Here's a slogan emailed to me from Jeanette Elkins who says she is disgusted by the amount of litter along our highways:


    You swap your trash for the cash you will spend in littering fines.

  • urbudelar Mar 6, 2007

    Hi Bill,

    I watch you and the rest of the morning crew each morning before taking my children to school. I am writing to give you some feedback regarding your blog concerning the piles of litter on our highway. I traveled from Raleigh to Mobile Alabama last year and upon my return I made a phone call stressing how it is a shame to see so much litter on our highways. I made comments about how clean the highways were, once my family and I were heading further south. We noticed signs posted prohibiting littering were visibly seen and also the fine for doing so. I agree with you 100% that some drastic measures are needed to deter people from tossing their trash. My husband and I moved here 5 years ago and we have been aggravated about this issue and we are hoping for a breakthrough soon. Please keep the discussion ongoing regarding this very serious matter.

    In closing, thanks for all that you are doing and hopefully others will join this effort. May you have continued success in

  • mahraung Mar 6, 2007

    When I first moved to NC from the midwest in 1997, the litter on the roads was the first thing I noticed. This state is absolutely filthy on every major highway, interstate, main road and country road. It's pitiful that folks here don't appreciate or care about their surroundings! I agree that we don't need more taxes, but actual enforcement on the many laws in this state/county that are not enforces (speeding is one, too). If this county would just start enforcing the laws on the books, we wouldn't need bonds or tax hikes.

  • Celt Mar 5, 2007

    I think part of the problem is that we differentiate between large scale littering (a bag containing a diaper or food containers) from small scale littering (straws, wrappers, apple cores, etc.). I think either should be unacceptable, because both will eventually clutter the landscape. How about a zero tolerance policy which includes immediately adding points to the license of violators, just as happens with other moving violations? Higher insurance rates can be a real deterrant!

    As far as a slogan, how about

    Don't litter our home: On your Carolina ride, remember your Carolina pride.




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