5 Ways We Can Solve Tennessee’s Litter Problem

People picking up trash

In Tennessee, the battle against litter is not just a challenge; it’s a shared responsibility and a rallying call to action. The growing concern poses a real threat to our scenic landscapes, wildlife habitats, and the overall well-being of our communities. However, there’s hope, and each of us possesses the power to be part of the solution. Through practical steps taken collectively in our daily lives, we have the potential to enact lasting change in Tennessee’s environment.

Explore these four impactful ways to make a difference:

1 – Let’s Talk Trash

Proper waste disposal is essential for keeping our environment clean and litter-free. Use designated bins for different types of trash. Secure items before throwing them away to prevent unintentional litter that can harm wildlife and the environment. Composting is an effective way to decrease the amount of waste that ends up in landfills, and it also provides a valuable resource to enrich soil and promote healthy plant growth. Proper disposal of large items is equally important. Communities may have designated drop-off locations or pick-up services for appliances, furniture, and electronics to ensure they are disposed of properly. It’s not just about throwing things away; it’s about ensuring that our trash doesn’t become a bigger problem for Tennessee.

2- Recycle It Right

Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce trash in our landfills. But not all that glitters can be recycled, so clarity on what your local facility accepts is essential. Take a moment to educate yourself on recycling guidelines specific to your area to ensure the materials you recycle get to the correct facility. While glass, plastics, aluminum soda cans, soup cans, and foil might be recyclable in some regions, it’s crucial to check with your recycling company for their specific guidelines, as recycling centers may vary. And the journey doesn’t end there. Whatever items you can recycle, make sure they’re clean before tossing them into the recycling bin. By adhering to these guidelines, you actively contribute to reducing landfill waste.

3 – Join the “Bring Your Own” Movement

Reducing single-use plastics is a small, conscious choice that greatly impacts our planet. One simple yet effective way to do this is by saying no to single-use plastic bags, straws, and cups when eating out. Incorporating reusable cups, bags, straws, containers, and utensils into your everyday life is an easy way to cut down on plastic use. By doing so, we can reduce the amount of pollution in landfills and waterways. This small change becomes a meaningful step towards fostering a culture of sustainability, not only for our local communities but also for the planet as a whole.

4 – Dive into Tennessee’s Cleanup Scene

Joining a cleanup is a great way to make a positive impact on the environment in Tennessee. Check out our event calendar for a list of the cleanup initiatives near you in a user-friendly format. Can’t find one near you, don’t worry! Cleaning up doesn’t always require a group effort. A solo endeavor can be just as impactful. Consider going on a walk in your local area and bring a bag to collect any trash you come across. Whether you participate alone or with a group, you can make a difference in the cleanliness of your community. Every piece of debris removed is a step towards a cleaner and more sustainable environment.

5 – Unleash the Power of Community

We know that littering is a problem in Tennessee and tackling it is a team effort. By supporting local initiatives that prioritize the environment we can take a step in the right direction. Here are some initiatives leading the way in litter reduction in Tennessee:

  • Nobody Trashes Tennessee: This comprehensive statewide litter prevention campaign helps ensure that our roads stay clean and our landscapes remain unspoiled. They provide resources and opportunities for residents to take personal and community actions to help prevent and reduce trash in Tennessee.
  • Adopt-A-Highway: Empowering communities and organizations, Adopt-A-Highway is a grassroots initiative allowing individuals to take charge of maintaining and cleaning sections of public highways. To learn how to participate in the program, visit our Adopt-A-Highway page.
  • Keep Tennessee Beautiful: Keep Tennessee Beautiful is the state-level affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, housed by the University of Memphis. It serves as a resource for litter prevention, community greening, and recycling & waste reduction education. Connect with your local chapter to find out how to play a role in your area.
  • The Great American Cleanup: From March to June each year, thousands of volunteers across the country join forces to clean up roadways, waterways, and public spaces. The national initiative, hosted by Keep America Beautiful, brings diverse community cleanup events to Tennessee, adding to the collective effort to keep our state clean.
  • No Trash November: Every November, Tennesseans unite to confront litter head-on. This month-long initiative encourages residents to participate in cleanup events in their communities. In partnership with Adopt-A-Highway groups, grantees, and affiliates, NTT invites you to join these public events across the state.

By supporting these initiatives and others like them, you’re joining a league of eco-heroes who are actively working towards a cleaner, greener Tennessee. 


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