My husband and I love to walk, enjoying the beauty of nature as we put 4-6 miles a day on our walking shoes. When we first moved to Cherokee Village, we were dismayed by the amount of litter we saw on our walking route. Our dismay led us to take action. Each week (on garbage day) we take plastic shopping bags along and pick up the trash we see.
Now our walking route is nearly litter-free.
Even though littering is illegal and punishable in Arkansas, litter continues to be a problem. According to the Keep America Beautiful initiative, it costs the State of Arkansas nearly $5 million annually to pick up litter from the roadside.
Besides being unsightly, litter can stunt a community's growth. Prospective tourists, residents, and businesses are looking for places that are physically beautiful, cared for, dynamic and growing. A community with a lot of litter gives the impression that the people living in it do not care about their town or its future. The opposite is also true. In 2004, for example, an auto parts plant was moved to Wynne, Arkansas when the company's site selection committee noticed how litter-free the town was as they passed through.
Common forms of litter here in Arkansas are: cigarette filters, plastic foam, aluminum cans, plastic bags and containers, glass, food wrappers and containers, paper. Some litter, stays in the environment for a long time. For example, plastic foam, takes an estimated 500 years to degrade.
Intentional littering can be reported by calling a toll-free number at the Arkansas State Highway Department (866-811-1222). Give the date and location the littering occurred, what was littered and a description of the vehicle and the license plate. The owner of the vehicle will receive a warning letter and a second reported incident will result in a fine and community service.
There are many other things a citizen can do in addition to reporting intentional litter. Some of them are:
* join an estimated 17,000 Arkansas volunteers, participate in a community clean up day.
* request a free litter bag from firstname.lastname@example.org
* keep a litter bag in your vehicle and use it
* do not place loose items in the bed of a pickup truck
* use re-useable bags for grocery shopping
* help with community recycling efforts
* teach children that it is wrong to litter
Take action today and help to cut the cost of litter. The next Cherokee Village Pride cleanup day in is October 29 from 8-noon with free lunch provided following the cleanup. Meet at the Cherokee Village Senior Center to sign in and pick up bags and vests.
Sharon K. Vander Zyl