Volunteers participating in The Great American Cleanup here Saturday had a good day and made a difference. They deserve thanks from everyone in the community.
But those dedicated folks only made a dent in the problem, which is almost infinitely greater than capable of being solved once a year.
Alderman-at-Large Keith Conlee is looking for ways to make the city’s cleanup effort more sustained throughout the year.
Neighborhood associations have had some success in the past getting homeowners in their area to clean yards, or providing volunteers to help those who are not able to patrol their own property well. Increased public awareness programs would probably help as well.
The bigger problem is commercial and public property.
City, county and even state crews pick up litter, but no one department has the money or resources to stay on it on a weekly basis so it only occasionally gets done.
The city has anti-litter ordinances but they can be difficult to enforce, catching someone in the act.
Conlee wonders if a local version of the Adopt-a-Highway program would work, with a business’s employees taking a couple of hours on a weekend to regularly clean a section of street, or even perhaps alternating with another business or civic group every so often.
Litter certainly does hurt the city and, indirectly, costs individual citizens in the long run.
More to the point, there is simply no reason to throw trash out a vehicle window. It’s no trouble just to hang on to it until one gets to his or her destination and the vehicle probably contains other trash that will need to be removed anyway.
If anyone has suggestions, Conlee is willing to help coordinate any efforts.
The difficult part will be sustaining such efforts and that depends on people having respect for others and caring about their community. If we have a litter problem, we may well have a much larger problem than litter.