The Union Recorder

Editorials

February 19, 2014

Culture shift essential to curb littering

MILLEDGEVILLE — Over the past few months a small group of local volunteers has worked to breath new life into the Keep Milledgeville-Baldwin Beautiful initiative.

But they can’t do it alone — and they shouldn’t be charged with that responsibility. Whether we realize it or not, unsightly displays along roadsides, in neighborhoods and near our corridors affects everyone — and it affects the way others view all of Baldwin County. When we think about it in these terms we should all see the need to bring this issue into everyone’s focus.

Only then, when litter shifts into the purview of the entire community’s focus, will we see lasting change.

Anyone who takes a short drive around town can see fairly quickly that support for a community-wide litter initiative is sorely needed. Yet, groups and efforts have formed in the past but eventually lost momentum and fallen by the wayside due to lack of support. The reality is, however, that in order to be truly effective the efforts mustn’t be about cleanup alone.

We must work from the grassroots to change the culture of the community so that we all realize the consequences of litter and want to do better by our own community.

Educating people is the primary step. Education is needed on all age levels to prevent litter from ever forming. One solution might be taking the anti-littering message into classrooms, where volunteers speak to young people about the harmful impact. Reaching the youth also provides an avenue to reach adults as well because the students can help educate their parents. Perhaps local garden clubs can also get involved, and other nonprofits should be included in the education component as well.

Another way to get the word out could be signage; putting up billboards and other signs around town detailing the consequences of littering — and contact information on how to report the crime when we see others in the act.

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