Litter is a problem all of us have to face

Published 8:21 am Wednesday, March 31, 2021

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More than 1,200 volunteers statewide spent part of their Saturday mornings picking up trash along the Chattahoochee River, including right here in Troup County. It was part of the annual Sweep the Hooch event, which is organized by the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper and is volunteer driven.

We talked to a man from Marietta, whose family drove down to West Point Lake to participate after all the sites near his home were booked. Another person picking up trash had recently moved back home from Colorado and wanted to help.

At just about every other county commission meeting — and some city council meetings — litter becomes a topic of conversation. It seems as though it’s always someone else’s responsibility.

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We see and hear the same questions over and over. It’s always something like this: “Why isn’t the sheriff’s office writing more tickets for litter? Why aren’t inmates from the jail picking up trash beside our roadways? What are the county and the cities going to do about this problem? After all, it makes our area look bad.”

The truth is that litter is a problem all of us have to face together. We’re all guilty of walking right over a piece of trash in our path and not stopping to pick it up. What if we all picked up trash as we saw it?

The city of LaGrange has a “Leave LaGrange Better Than We Found It” trash cleanup once a month on a Saturday morning, and they are open to literally anyone who wants to participate. Every month a new group typically rotates in, but the same people are almost always involved. Why not volunteer to help out?

For years, the sheriff’s office has a mile of road that it keeps clean and has encouraged other groups to follow its lead. We hope they do.

Litter isn’t a “you” problem, it’s an “us” problem. We all contribute to the world’s trash.

Yes, it would be nice to find the folks who dump entire trash bags beside the road, but it’s hard to do.

All of us can play a role in fixing the litter problem locally by picking up trash and making sure our own trash receptacles are secure.