Area now needs to take next step in fighting litter

Published 9:00 pm Sunday, December 9, 2012

Lincoln County is looking good and needs to stay that way.

     Results from the 13th annual Keep Lincoln County Beautiful survey show the county is virtually devoid of litter along county roads, city streets and other locations.

     On a scale of one to four – with “one” meaning no litter and “four” severely littered – the countywide average was just above a “one. “

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     This year marked the sixth in a row that the average was under 1.5. That translates to a consistently clean county.

     Volunteers who visit pre-determined spots around the county conducted the survey, a requirement of membership in Keep America Beautiful. Based on what they see in terms in litter, they assign a number, and the numbers are averaged for survey results.

     Up to 90 spots around the county and city have been surveyed in the past, but a time-saving move this year saw that number drop to 48. The other 42 spots will be evaluated next year.

     Survey results are calculated for each of the county’s five supervisor districts and the city of Brookhaven. Districts two and five had the highest totals this year, but both were still less than 1.50 on the scale.

     In presentations this past week to county supervisors and city aldermen, KLCB member Homer Richardson credited a cultural change for citizens’ heightened response to litter.

     “It’s gotten to the point that people just don’t want to live on a street with litter,” he said.

     Indeed, a glance at the survey recap chart shows a pretty steady decline in litter totals from around 2002 to the present. Despite a small spike in 2006, the numbers resumed their decline in subsequent years.

     So where does all of this leave Brookhaven and Lincoln County? Overall, we would appear to be in a pretty good spot.

     The challenge now is to maintain the low level of litter as determined in the survey and to stamp out any remaining “hot spots” where litter remains prevalent. Those, Richardson said, include cut-through roads that are less traveled than main thoroughfares.

     Along those lines, citizens taking on the task of picking up litter themselves would be a trend worth continuing and expanding.

     Whether in groups, as has been done in recent years, or individually, selecting a stretch of road to clean up is certainly a worthwhile and noticeable gesture. Richardson pointed out that areas that have been cleaned have a tendency not to become littered again. So the hard work in picking up is well worth the effort.

     On a less noticeable scale, one person simply going a few feet out of the way to pick up a piece of trash represents a small but important step in continued success against littering.

      While not available in the county, a curbside-recycling program under way in the city should produce even better numbers in future years. Richardson commended city leaders for their efforts in implementing the recycling program.

     A strong recycling program will mean potential litter will not only not be finding its way to a roadside ditch, but also will not be heading to a landfill. That has the potential for improved community appearance as well as financial benefits for citizens by heading off increases in waste processing charges.

     The fight against litter in Lincoln County has come a long way in the past 13 years. The battle is not over, as everyone must continue to maintain the momentum now evident and not fall back into the ditch of an unkempt and littered community.