Make a difference: Adopt a highway today, county says

Published 1:39 pm Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Volunteers are needed to help pick up litter along Polk County highways, parks, schoolyards, street rights-of-way and waterways, according to the Polk County Appearance Committee.

Litter comes from many sources, including household trash handling, dumpsters used by businesses, loading docks, construction and demolition sites, trucks with uncovered loads, pedestrians, and motorists. Litter is blown about by wind and traffic or carried by water. Appearance committee members say once litter has accumulated, it invites people thoughtlessly to add more.

Litter doesn&squo;t just appear; it is the result of careless attitudes and improper waste handling, according to committee members. They say people litter mainly because they feel no sense of ownership, even though areas such as parks are public properties. Such people may believe someone else, such as a park maintenance or highway worker, will pick up after them. Litter and illegal dumping, like graffiti or abandoned cars, reflect&bsp; a lack of ownership by residents in the community, appearance committee members say.

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What can you do?

The Polk County Appearance Committee makes the following suggestions for people who want to help keep the area beautiful:

&ull; Don&squo;t litter.

&ull; Carry a litterbag in your car.

&ull; Make sure trashcans have lids that can be securely fastened. If you have curbside collection, don&squo;t put out loose trash in boxes.

&ull; Tie papers in a bundle before placing them in a curbside recycling bin.

&ull; If you own a business, check dumpsters daily to see that the lids and side doors are closed.

&ull; If you or a member of your family is involved in a civic group, scouting, or recreational sports program, encourage the group to Adopt a Highway in your area and maintain it on a regular basis.

&ull; Report areas where people have illegally dumped garbage and debris to the N.C. Department of Highways Polk County office at 828-894-8980.

&ull; Ask the organizers of a festival, fair or other outdoor event in your community to make it a litter-free event. This can be done by giving out litterbags at entrances and making sure that everyone who attends knows that is a &dquo;litter free&dquo; day.

&ull; Cover open loads on all trucks.

&ull; If you smoke, identify an ash/trash receptacle as soon as you light up. Use ash/trash receptacles and carry a pocket ashtray or a portable ashtray. And encourage fellow smokers to be responsible for their cigarette litter too.

The Polk appearance committee says: &dquo;We all want to live in a vibrant and beautiful county, and a big part of that is controlling litter. Nothing can ruin a trip through an area faster than seeing trash on the side of the road or in our parks and along our creeks and waterways. That&39;s why it is so important that all residents of Polk County not only take care of their own trash, but also help clean up the open areas we all enjoy.&dquo;

For more information, to sign up to adopt a highway as an individual participant, or as a group or business, call 828-894-2324 or 828-894-8980. Please include the number of people anticipated in your group. Trash bags, gloves, safety vests and grabbers will be provided.