Pharos-Tribune

Opinion

April 18, 2014

THEIR VIEW: Littering shows disregard for surroundings

Numbers tell a sad story about the disregard many Hoosiers have for their surroundings.

Too many in Indiana don’t care enough about the environment to prevent them from cluttering the countryside by carelessly tossing litter along the side of roadways.

Fortunately, efforts are in place to try to keep up with those who diminish from the state’s natural beauty by tossing trash along state, city and county roads. But those efforts could be virtually eliminated if Hoosiers — and those passing through the state — would show some responsibility.

Each year in April the Indiana Department of Transportation schedules what’s called a Trash Bash designed for cleaning litter from the roadsides. The Trash Bash began on April 5 and runs through April 27. National Earth Day falls within that period, helping to raise awareness of the ills associated with littering.

As for the way numbers speak to the issue, it’s important to note that, in 2013 alone, 20,678 bags of trash were collected along 3,400 miles of Indiana roadways by INDOT maintenance crews, Indiana Department of Correction offender crews and 1,633 Adopt-A-Highway volunteers. Also collected were 1,256 cubic yards of loose debris.

Litter is a costly problem. Each year, INDOT must spend money and employee man hours picking up litter along state highways and roads.

This money and time could be better spent improving Indiana’s roadways or rest areas rather than litter pick-up. Fortunately, the Adopt-A-Highway volunteers make a difference economically. The cost savings for Indiana taxpayers for these Adopt-A-Highway volunteers totaled more than $98,000.

The only real solution would be for Hoosiers en masse to assume individual responsibility by determining they won’t litter and they will set a good example for young people to discourage them from beginning the annoying habit.

The bottom line is that Indiana residents — in knowing their tax dollars go toward the upkeep of roads, parks and other public properties — should develop and maintain a sense of ownership. That should, in theory, make Hoosiers want to protect what belongs to them.

— Times-Mail, Bedford

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