As we usher in the New Year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the changes we can make in our daily lives to create a positive impact on the environment. One of the most pressing issues we face in Tennessee is littering, and the good news is that small changes in our habits can collectively make a big difference.
Here are five simple resolutions that can contribute to ending littering in Tennessee:
#1 – Dispose of Trash Properly:
- The foundation of a cleaner environment starts with proper waste disposal. Make a resolution to always dispose of your trash properly by using designated bins. Take a moment to educate yourself on recycling guidelines in your area, so they find their way to the right facilities. And if you can, compost any food waste and other acceptable materials so they don’t take up space in a landfill. By being mindful of how we dispose of our waste, we can significantly reduce the amount of litter that accumulates in our roadways, waterways and other natural spaces.
#2 – Use Reusable Bags, Containers and Utensils:
- Cut down on single-use plastic by incorporating reusable bags, containers and utensils into your daily routine. Invest in high-quality, eco-friendly alternatives that can be used repeatedly, and help reduce the demand for disposable items. By making this small change, you contribute to less plastic pollution, protecting our state and its wildlife.
#3 – Encourage Family and Friends Not to Litter:
- Spread the word about the importance of keeping our surroundings clean. Encourage your family and friends to be part of the solution and adopt responsible waste management practices. Fostering a culture of cleanliness among your close circles contributes to a ripple effect that can extend to the broader community.
#4 – Participate in Cleanup Events:
- Take an active role in your community by participating in cleanup events. TDOT makes it easy to find events near you with its event calendar. Many local organizations and groups, like Adopt-A-Highway, organize regular cleanup initiatives that address littering and beautify public spaces. Make it a resolution to attend at least one cleanup event, or organize your own cleanup and experience the satisfaction of directly contributing to a cleaner environment.
#5 – When Transporting Trash, Cover it with a Tarp:
- When transporting trash, whether it’s a short trip to the local landfill or a more extended journey, cover your load with a tarp. This simple action prevents litter from escaping and flying away during transit. And if you see a vehicle not following these guidelines, you can report the to the litter hotline by calling 1-877-8-LITTER or filling out the TDOT online form. With the information you provide, TDOT will send a friendly reminder letter to the owner of the vehicle that includes information about the negative consequences of their litter and how to contain it, plus it informs them that litterers can be fined up to $1,500.
This New Year, let’s commit to making small changes that collectively have a huge impact on reducing littering. By disposing of trash properly, using reusable items, talking to your loved ones, participating in cleanup events and covering trash during transport, we can contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment. This year, be part of the solution to end littering in Tennessee. Together, we can make 2024 a year of positive change for our planet.