My Turn, Tamara Sheffield: Make a difference on community’s litter issue

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 2, 2020

By Tamara Sheffield

We all do it, or used to do it.

It may have been intentional, unintentional or an action done without knowledge of community and global impact. What we all haven’t done is act to make a difference.

I’m talking about is littering. Once again, the city hosted a Spring Clean event last month and the timing was perfect. In a time when the circumstances are so unsure and unprecedented,  I was outside away from all the technology, away from all people, away from all the stress and was getting sunshine, exercise and, hopefully, making a small difference.

I know that some local companies are considering being part of Adopt-A-Salisbury Street, and many organizations have signed up. Several fast foods companies right here sell their products, and their wrappers are all over town. Can we get our local chain restaurants to join in the fight?

Please contact the city’s coordinator Stephen Brown at if interested.

I am not blaming any companies. Even my company, which sells packaged goods, is working globally to change packaging, using renewable energy and establishing more sustainable operations. Yes, I picked up some of these packages as well. Our CEO even spoke about how we see the bags blowing around and we are working to be better stewards.

I am just asking for consideration to act locally from businesses right here at home.

Upon reflection of the items I found, I realized that people are just throwing these out of their cars or dropping as they walk. This is especially true on streets where the roadside features mainly businesses, not someone’s yard. Many people have said it’s from blowing out of trash trucks or spilled out when the cans are picked up, and I am sure some of that does contribute. But reviewing the items I picked up, it is overwhelmingly people littering!

I mean, I picked up fast food wrappers that must have been riding around in cars. For real, where is the closest Jack in the Box?

I also experienced some frustration as well as the “what difference does it make” feeling. Then, I thought about the fact that a 5-foot-1-inch-tall woman by the name of Bette Midler  basically cleaned up Manhattan. I thought about a litter campaign when I was growing up: Tennessee Trash. I remember it to this day. Where is our N.C. litter campaign?

I was influenced at a young age, and we need to get that instilled again in our youth. I feel I am part of the generation that nagged our parents to wear seat belts. We can get our youth to influence their parents with a solid campaign against litter.

I know we have bigger concerns as I write this in navigating COVID-19. But we will be resilient and we, as North Carolinians and Salisburians, will come through this virus and learn many lessons.

I encourage us to keep as normal as possible while following proper Centers for Disease Control regulations in stopping the spread of this virus. I also encourage us all to be that influence and make a difference in regards to litter: Be A Bette!

Tamara Sheffield is a Salisbury City Council member.