BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – Louisiana has a litter problem. The state is ranked 8th most littered state in the nation and the recycling rate is only about 12%. The Litter Abatement Task Force is showing the results of their first project since they got kicked off to address the issue.
Over six months ago Governor John Bel Edwards toured the trash-filled ditches at the Burden Museum and Gardens in Baton Rouge. Plastic bottles and trash that were decades old sat in the waterways. Now with the help of grants and volunteers, it has been totally cleared out.
The Governor’s Task Force on Statewide Litter Abatement and Beautification was created in January by executive order. They have been working to address the litter problem across the state and find ways to both clean the mess and prevent future generations from dumping their garbage in the environment.
“I think that’s why the education piece of this is so important. Often people have no idea of the adverse consequences that flow from throwing that bottle into a ditch, from not securing that load of trash in their truck or trailer as they’re going to the landfill,” Gov. Edwards said.
A major part of the task force is educating adults about the consequences of trash clogging up waterways and the impact on the environment. About 80% of litter is intentional, according to Keep Louisiana Beautiful. Louisiana spends over $40 million a year picking up litter.
“It is a key education tool because people don’t realize how much litter is on the ground when 81% of all litter is four inches or smaller. So having our citizens and engaged community walking the streets being a part of the solution is key to that,” said Susan Russell, executive director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful.
The task force chaired by the Lt. Governor is trying to teach kids how to properly throw away trash and recycle. They urge elected officials to visit schools and talk about litter.
“But if the example being set for them by their parents and other adults in their lives is contrary to what we’re trying to teach them, we’re not going to be successful,” Gov. Edwards said.
Municipalities can apply for grants through the task force to kick start their own clean-up programs. The task force has made an official recommendation to the governor’s office on priority projects and focuses. To view recommendations, click here.
For more on statewide clean-up initiatives, visit keeplouisianabeautiful.org.