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Ohio anti-littering campaign unveiled

Staff report

A statewide litter campaign aims to prioritize and promote the conversation around litter in Ohio.

“Litter is ugly and costly,” Gov. Mike DeWine said.

The new initiative was unveiled recently by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio Department of Transportation.

The campaign, “A Little Litter is a Big Problem,” is designed to show Ohioans the impact their litter can have. Inappropriately discarding an empty container or banana peel adds to the larger statewide problem. This campaign is meant to show the full scale of this issue, giving Ohioans a whole new visual perspective on litter.

This effort signals a transition from a mostly reactive approach to litter by incorporating a preventive strategy into the state’s efforts by drawing attention to the problem of litter in the state and reminding Ohioans they each have a role to play in reducing its harmful impact.

DeWine noted Earth Day last week was a great opportunity to recognize what each of us can do to help protect our planet. “One of the things we can all do is help clean up litter — because a little bit of litter is a big problem,” he said.

Research shows that 42 percent of Ohioans admit to having littered in the past month. Litter impacts many facets of Ohio, including the state’s transportation system, state parks, beach fronts, and waterways.

At the state level, litter remains a costly problem. ODOT alone has spent at least $48.6 million to deal with litter since 2011. Last year, staff at ODOT spent 151,410 hours picking up trash.

“Every year, ODOT crews have to divert their attention from important maintenance work to pick up other people’s trash,” ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said. “If we can work together to reduce the amount of litter that collects on our roadways, our crews can spend less time picking up trash and more time on critical maintenance work like pothole and guardrail repairs.”

Additionally, many state parks saw a significant increase in visitors last year who spent time hiking, biking, and swimming. This includes Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio, which saw a nearly 300 percent increase in beach use during peak summertime. Those large crowds left behind a lot of trash and proved to be a challenge for cleanup crews.

“Ohio’s public lands belong to everyone,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “Litter spoils our experience with nature, but we are committed to doing our part to keep our beautiful landscapes pristine.”

The state agencies will host a litter summit this spring to rally together with partner organizations to combat the liter problem. The agencies are seeking local governments, environmentally focused groups, businesses, educational institutions and additional community organizations to partner with to spread the campaign even further. Research shows that while 28 percent of people recall a message against litter, they do not recall the actual message. Working with stakeholders and various groups across the state will counteract this statistic.

Organizations interested in attending the summit can email web.requests@epa.ohio.gov and use “litter” in the subject line.

news@vindy.com

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