June 15, 2009

There's NOTHING Cool About a Litterbug

I’m sure it’s happened to you.
You’re driving down the road, enjoying your good fortune to be in Denton, relaxed, happy… when you are yanked from your calm reverie (maybe even by the sound of your own voice shrieking, “Oh no you did not!”) because the jerk in front of you just threw some trash out the window.

Whether it was the ubiquitous cigarette butt flick or something as egregious as tossing a soda cup, I know it ticks you off as much as it does me.

Why? Because your good mother taught you not to be a litter bug, and you think – as do I, dear heart – that litterers' mothers tried to teach them too, and what makes them think the rules don’t apply to them anyway?!

Well, I confess, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I have my suspicions.
I think it’s probably either laziness or ignorance, or a combination of the two.
For instance, I know some smokers (and even nonsmokers) think that cigarette butts are biodegradable, and since they don’t want them stinking up the interiors of their cars, they toss them out the window.

Let me clear that up right now.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. (See here and here and here.)

And, use your heads smoking litterbugs – those blackened and burned patches on the shoulders on I-35 North and South (and shoulders and medians all over Texas!) are from fires started by tossed butts. In fact, cigarette butts are the most common cause of grass and wildfires in Texas.
And your car? It already smells like smoke.
I promise.

Did you know, cigarette butts represent a significant portion of the total litter clogging the roads?
"Each year more than 1 billion pieces of litter will accumulate on Texas highways. Of those, 13 percent are cigarette butts. That means 130 million butts will be tossed out in Texas alone this year."
--Texas Department of Transportation

Well, why did I bring this up knowing it will just rile you up dear readers? Because there IS something you can do about it.
Report those nasty litterers!
That’s right, as part of the awesome Don’t Mess With Texas anti-litter campaign, you can anonymously report litterers.

You’ll need to have the following to report those litter bugs:

  • Texas license plate number (Texas plates only)
  • Make of vehicle
  • Time of day
  • Location
  • Date
  • Who tossed (driver, passenger or accidental)
  • What was tossed

I know you have a pen and piece of paper in your car, and you can scratch this out without taking your eyes off the road. (You don't want to cause an accident while helping to educate a litterer.)
After TxDot processes your info, they will send the litterer a Don't Mess with Texas litterbag along with a letter reminding them to keep their trash off of our roads.

So really, you’re doing litterbugs a favor. They are kindly reminded to keep their trash to themselves, without getting an expensive fine, and they score a cool trash bag for the car.
Better than they deserve, I think.

And, they’ll realize people are watching; someone saw what they did!
I think the shame alone might help them not to litter, and that’s good for ALL of Texas, not just the excellent bit that is Denton.
So check out the Web site and get on it, my dears.
There’s no need to be ticked off, when you can do something useful about it.


Maxine from Texas said...

I left my first two reports just now - TWO DAYS in a row I saw people toss their cigarette butts out GRRRRR!!! I've often wondered if I can actually report these people, thanks for letting me know I can!!

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

Get on with your bad self Maxine! It feels good to be part of the solution, doesn't it?