Picayune Anti-Litter Campaign

Published 7:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2014

By Ray Mitchell

About a year ago, with encouragement from City Manager Jim Luke, a group of concerned citizens banded together to form the “Picayune Anti-Litter Committee” with a hope to eradicate litter from our city.  Over the years, picking up litter every few months has not resolve the issue, after all, the people who volunteer their time and energy to pick up the litter were not the ones throwing it out.  Our committee hopes to change people’s habit of littering so that their mindset becomes to not litter, period!

We learned from cities with successful anti-litter campaigns that the best way to get people who litter to stop was to make them aware that they can be caught and punished. Anti-litter campaigns that only appealed to people’s sense of citizenship and environmental stewardship didn’t work.  The problem is people who litter care little about civic duty or the environment.

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Our mission became to inspire Picayune Citizens, City Government and Business Community to work together to establish our city as a “litter free” community.  We set a goal to eliminate litter through commitment and participation from our Citizens, City Officials and Businesses by establishing an on-going system of education, advertising, training, clean-up campaigns and a set of rigorous fines and punishment to bring about positive changes in attitudes toward littering

Our first step was to draft a new litter ordinance that clearly defines litter, establishes the responsibilities of our citizens, city and businesses concerning litter and, 3) Sets stiff fines and punishments for violating any terms of the ordinance. This ordinance is intended to discourage littering and motivate us all to be better stewards of our city, the environment and in the long run, our economy.

We want a litter free community which makes a good first impression on new visitors who may stop for lunch or fuel, looking for a new home or a place to establish or expand their business.    We hope to instill an attitude that littering is unacceptable behavior and bad for us as a community and an appreciation for the importance of a clean and healthy environment. We urge businesses to regularly pick up litter from their parking lots, drive ways, flower beds and green spaces up to adjoining lots and streets.  We urge residences to keep their property and neighborhood streets free of litter and debris. Doing your part to eliminate litter is easy, but it takes vigilance. Never throw or let trash escape from your vehicle.  Keep truck beds free of litter that can blow out onto our streets.  Always tarp open trailers when hauling debris.   Make sure household garbage bins are sealed tightly so animals or winds can’t scatter the contents. Always dispose of your garbage appropriately when attending a park or other public spaces.

Cigarette butts, snack wrappers and take-out food and beverage containers are the most commonly littered items. Cigarettes are one of the most insidious forms of litter and the most prevalent.  Each discarded butt takes 12 years to completely decompose, all the while leaching toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into soil and waterways.

Our committee meets at 9 a.m. on the last Thursday of each month in the main conference room at City Hall.  New members are welcome.  We plan to initiate programs and activities that have anti-litter themes and need your ideas and suggestions.  These undertakings require funding and we urge donations from everyone interested in a litter free community.  Send your contributions to: Office of the City Manager, Anti-Litter Committee, 203 Goodyear Blvd, Picayune MS 39466. Make checks payable to the “Picayune Anti-Litter Committee”.

By working together, we can and will make a difference. I believe it’s possible to have a litter free city. Please get involved. We hope to eradicate litter from Picayune. Imagine, Picayune free of litter!