04/22/06 — Clean matters: When litter gets out of hand, community pays a price

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Clean matters: When litter gets out of hand, community pays a price

This weekend, members of the community put on their old clothes and headed out to pick up a bit of the litter that has become such a nuisance along North Carolina and Wayne County’s highways.

The Wayne County Litter Sweep project is just one of many ways in which residents are working to preserve the natural beauty that is one of the hallmarks of Wayne County. Hundreds of volunteers gather periodically throughout the year to clean up the messes others leave behind. From Boy Scouts and other civic groups to just plain people who care about the environment, they donate their time because they care about the community in which they live.

It is often scary what they find along the way — reams of paper, discarded furniture and sometimes even a computer or two — all a sad reflection on how little people understand the need to dispose of their trash properly.

What would be ideal is if there were no need for Litter Sweep at all.

There’s no question that litter is a problem in communities in general and in Wayne County in specific.

All you have to do is look around the highways to see the evidence.

Tossing a wrapper out the window might seem like a small offense, but multiplied several times over, what was once just a minor problem becomes a real issue.

Litter does more than just mar the landscape of Wayne County. There can be an economic cost as well.

A potential residential or industrial investor who sees litter along the highway might wonder about the potential of a community.

If the people who live there do not care enough to keep their community clean, what does that say about their commitment to their county’s future? In this case, first impressions can make a lasting impact.

Seeing litter along a highway would not be the only reason a potential investor might choose another area in which to relocate, but sometimes it is a small factor that pushes a decision one way or the other. Why take a chance?

Keeping Wayne County clean is a big job. It takes the efforts of public and private interests. Litter Sweep and Keep Wayne County Beautiful volunteers are very important parts of that team. But even if you couldn’t be part of this weekend’s Litter Sweep, you can still make a difference. If you see trash, pick it up. If you see someone dumping illegally, report them.

With a unified effort, we can make Wayne County beautiful not just every April but all year long.

Published in Editorials on April 22, 2006 10:22 PM