Time for some spring cleaning, picking up trash

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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It’s spring cleaning time.

No, it’s not officially spring until next week, but warmer weather brings with it the urge to get outside and move. For many people, a constructive activity is cleaning up their garden space, cleaning out the garage, or pulling out hibernation boxes of miscellaneous stuff that were shoved into closets, garages, sheds or other hiding places over the holidays or winter months.

If cleaning requires a season, that spring cleaning season begins now.

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It’s a great time to grab a garbage bag and pick up roadside garbage as well as trash around community parks, playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails, and downtown to tidy things up for the impending summer season.

Early spring is the perfect time not only to spruce up your yard and garden space. It’s also the perfect time to clean up in the community. If you look around, roadside ditches are filled with plastic bottles, fast food wrappers, and plastic grocery bags. It is not just in the woods that trash comes to life in Tennessee. It is along our roadsides, in our waterways and along our streets where careless drivers thoughtlessly toss their litter. 

Local civic groups and citizens adopt portions of local roads and trash cleanup days are usually  held in the spring, but the littering continues. The discarded debris strewn around the community is not only unsightly but also is harmful to the physical, environmental and economic health of our town and community.

Paper, glass and plastic, plus appliances, tires, furniture, and mattresses can be spotted at dumping sites along our highways and out of the way places. Piles of waste and water sources filled with debris become stagnant breeding grounds for disease. Littering is unsightly, unhealthy and also illegal though rarely subject to enforcement and prosecution. 

The community is becoming more reliant on tourism to boost our economy, with visitors flocking to our mountains, rivers and beautiful Watauga Lake to hike and fish.The garbage in our mountains, lakes, creeks and along our roadways spoils the travel experience and undercuts the effort of both public and private entities to build pleasure travel in the community.

Too much of our waste ends up not in landfills or recycling centers but along roadsides, in the woods and forests or floating in the rivers. Every time we carelessly throw a cigarette butt out the car window, drop a piece of paper or look the other way when the remnants of someone’s fast food meal goes flying onto the roadside, we are complicit in the harm it causes to our community. 

Prevention is the key to a litter-free environment. Be responsible by cleaning up your communities. Small acts, such as keeping a small trash bag in the car, picking up litter you see and properly disposing of it, make a large difference. Use tight-fitting lids on trash cans set out for collection and pick up anything dropped during that process. Reuse or recycle whenever possible. When you see someone litter, pick it up and throw it away. If you live where there is no curbside pickup take your trash and recycling to the designated locations for proper disposal. 

You can also help by educating your friends and your family members about the devastating impact littering has on the environment. Report littering to the authorities – take photographs and record license plates to assist enforcement of littering laws, participate in your community cleanup and river sweeps. 

Let’s re-double our efforts to keep our communities free of littering.

Our communities are everyone’s responsibility: take a large trash bag and a stick and pick up trash on your daily walk.