Editorial: Litter solution may involve self-help

Published 2:17 pm Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mike Causey of the N.C. Department of Transportation recommends one solution for the proliferation of roadside litter across the state: more volunteers for the program he heads, Adopt-A-Highway.

Causey says about 5,000 groups have current agreements to pick up litter along stretches of road around the state in the Adopt-A-Highway program. They commit to pick up litter at least four times a year. The state supplies safety training, safety vests, orange litter bags, blue recycling bags and gloves, and will pick up the filled bags if the volunteers want. Some groups dispose of the bags themselves.

Rowan County has 46 active Adopt-A-Highway agreements right now, Causey says. Through the years the county has had 212 groups participate.

The state spends about $16 million for inmates, highway maintenance crews and others to pick up roadside litter, officials estimate. Without Adopt-A-Highway volunteers pitching in, that total might be about $4 million higher — or we’d have even more trash blighting the landscape.

All this work and money would be saved if the litter never landed on the roadsides to begin with. Some of it comes from people throwing trash out vehicle windows. The rest is blown out of trucks carrying unsecured loads, such as small garbage haulers who don’t adequately cover their load.

To learn more about Adopt-A-Highway, call 1-800-331-5864. Think of it as a form of community self-help. Clean roadsides  make a good impression on visitors, and they help us enjoy the beauty of the area. Do we have to wait for someone else to solve this problem?