From white-tailed deer to black bears, raccoons to eastern gray squirrels, Tennessee has an abundance of wildlife that call this state home. However, Tennessee is also home to an environmental problem that affects the state’s many species.
According to TDOT/KTnBs’s 2022 Visible Litter Study, more than 88 million pieces of litter are estimated to exist on Tennessee’s roadways right now; this does not include fields, waterways and forests. Although the situation may seem dire, making small changes can significantly impact wildlife conservation and environmental protection.
Here are some of the tiny tweaks you can make to make a significant difference:
Always Dispose of Your Trash Properly
From hiking trails to our state’s parks, litter is found even in the most beautiful places in Tennessee. One of the most manageable steps to combat all this trash is to dispose of it properly.
Use the proper receptacles such as dumpsters, trash cans or specifically designated recycling bins to throw out your trash. By disposing of your garbage in its appropriate place, you can prevent animals from consuming harmful debris or getting trapped by improperly discarded items.
If you need help with how to dispose of a specific piece of trash, such as hazardous waste or old used tires, this blog has plenty of resources to help you get started.
You can also check out the Keep Tennessee Beautiful app, downloadable from Google Play or the Apple Store. This app will help you make the most of your recycling efforts by giving you the scoop on local collection sites and more.
Use Reusable Bags Instead of Single-Use Carriers
We get it, easy-to-use single-use carriers, especially plastic, are everywhere! However, just because these items are convenient doesn’t mean they don’t negatively impact our wildlife. Garbage can poison the animals or cause them to get trapped and suffocate.
Rather than be a passive bystander in the war on waste, why not upgrade to reusable bags? Not only do they have more personality (So many designs to choose from!), but they are more durable and ensure less waste goes into the environment, protecting animals everywhere.
The next time you head out the door, arm yourself with your trusty water bottle and reusable bag and think of all the wildlife saved because of your efforts.
Secure Your Load When Hauling Items
If you have a pickup truck or trailer, tarping your items when hauling them isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s Tennessee law. Unsecured trash loads can seriously threaten the environment because flown trash can end up in waterways, fields and other areas where animals often migrate.
As mentioned, this can harm animals that call the area home. They can also take away the beautiful scenery of our natural highways and byways.
The next time you need to throw out heavy trash and use your pickup, remember to lock down your load and save our wildlife.
Educate Others on The Impact of Trash on the Environment
As environmentalist Robert Swan once said, “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.”
Tell a friend or two or three about trash’s environmental impact. By sharing these tips, you make it more likely that a ripple effect of change will occur. Even though these changes may seem small, the more people engage in them, the more likely we will see a significant difference in our environment.
Encourage your friends, family members, coworkers, and everyone you meet to Join the Movement.
Participate in a Community Cleanup Event
If you want to get more involved, local cleanup events are great opportunities to get out in nature and impact your environment at the same time. When you join a community cleanup, you are not just picking up litter, but combating pollution, saving our wildlife and having a blast!
Discover a nearby cleanup event and help safeguard the wildlife that calls Tennessee home.