Winter has finally released Ohio from its freezing grip, and already the air feels and smells different the kind of difference that turns our thoughts to spring-cleaning and the outdoors.
Just as our homes need a good spring-cleaning, so do our neighborhoods, roadsides and parks. As the snow melts, it becomes abundantly clear how weve literally lost sight of litter these last few months. And believe me, we really know how to create trash!
According to solid waste authorities, Ohioans are generating about 2.5 million tons of trash each year thats more than 4 pounds per person per day! Although we are recycling almost 25 percent of our garbage; the rest is buried in landfills or, worse, becomes litter that degrades our environment as well as the places we work, shop and play.
So what is litter? Its a Styrofoam coffee cup pitched out a car window or fishing tackle discarded on a riverbank by a streamside angler. Its a cigarette butt flicked on the ground. Its the trash of all those thoughtless folks who believe that the soda can, candy wrapper or other trash they toss will not make a difference. But they couldnt be more wrong!
Every piece of litter does make a difference, because its a magnet for more. Once litter begins to accumulate, it invites people to add still more trash. Once-attractive areas are quickly turned into eyesores, sending a not-so-subtle message that people living and working in that area dont care about their community. They may also not care about breaking the law, until they find out that littering is illegal in Ohio and can cost up to $500 in fines.
Litter is also lasting. Did you know it takes a soda pop can more than 100 years to disintegrate? As for the plastic rings on six packs, try hundreds of years before they disappear. Clearly, those arent the kind of archeological souvenirs we want future Ohioans to be unearthing as they celebrate the Tercentennial or Quatercentenary of statehood.
Of course, theres good news here too, and its this: together we can do something about litter. April is Plant Pride, Not Litter month in Ohio a great time to make a conscious effort to get outside and help our communities look their very best.
Its an opportunity for family and friends to participate in one of the many community litter clean up and revitalization projects being held around the state. These events include neighborhood and park cleanups, roadside litter pick-ups, waterway sweeps and tree plantings
In 2002, during April and throughout the year, more than 78,000 volunteers participated in 5,188 litter cleanups across Ohio in which they collected almost 4,500 tons of trash!
Ohio has more than 6,000 miles of lakes, rivers and streams that provide us with drinking water and places to fish and boat. Its rolling hills, large tracts of dark green forests and wide-open meadowlands invite us to hike, camp and explore. Keeping all of these wonderful natural resources clean and green for everyones enjoyment is important.
Picking up litter doesnt start and stop with the month of April, and helping the Buckeye States natural beauty shine 24/7 is everyones responsibility. So, if you come across litter left by others, just pick it up and take it with you. Youll feel better knowing youve done your part to create a litter-free landscape in your own Ohio backyard
and maybe others will follow your lead!
For information on Plant Pride, Not Litter month community projects, contact your local recycling and litter prevention office or visit ohiodnr.com