By Stan Welch
South Carolina has recently earned the dubious distinction as the nation’s dirtiest state, ranking dead last for ‘public spaces cleanliness’ in the 2014 American State Litter Scorecard, and Anderson County is taking steps to reverse the trend towards more litter on area roadsides.
Six years ago, when the scorecard started, S.C. ranked 44th. The scorecard is released by the American Society for Public Administration, a public service advocacy group in Washington, D.C.
A recent article in The State newspaper reflected the scorecard’s results, which indicate that there are several factors in the state’s failure to live up to its “Keep It Beautiful” state slogan, adopted in 2011.
Steve Spacek, author of the scorecard, lists the state’s failures to enact deposits on empty containers (bottles, cans, etc.) and inadequate re-use and recycling programs, as well as inadequate enforcement of existing litter laws as key factors.
Demographics also play a part, according to the scorecard. South Carolina has the 20th largest population of 16-25 year-olds who, studies have shown are most prone, or willing, to illegally litter/dump wastes on properties, Spacek said. In addition, South Carolinians “throw away more un-reused, un-recycled items per day” than the residents of 48 other states, giving it the second worst ranking for most wasteful state.
Compare all this to Florida, one of the cleanest states. Florida has fewer 16-25 year-olds, mandates recycling and has a strong anti-littering campaign, Spacek says.
Anderson County is one of the counties taking a proactive position on the litter problem, says Julia Barnes, Director of the County’s new litter program. “The County is really taking the lead on this problem, and it is a real problem in Anderson County. But we are approaching it from several angles.
Great American Cleanup
For example, Anderson County will be having “The Great Anderson County Clean-Up” on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 8 am to 4 pm. Many individuals, churches, and civic groups from your community will be taking part in this effort, and we would like to invite all citizens to be involved as well.”
“We plan a large group meeting at the Anderson Civic Center on Monday, Oct. 13, at 6 pm and hope that you and your leadership team can be there. We will be serving refreshments (hot dogs and soft drinks) so come share a meal and visit with others from our county. ”
Anderson County will supply participants with gloves, orange safety vests, and trash bags that will be easily seen on the road for pick-up. Those items will be available for pickup that evening.
Another program, the Adopt-a-Spot program gives Anderson County citizens an opportunity to volunteer in their communities while enjoying teamwork, exercise and beautiful roadside scenery. In this program civic groups and others can pick an area that they then clean up, either on a one time basis, or as a regular public service.
Safety of the volunteers is a prime consideration, and a number of precautions, from the appropriate, safe clothing and equipment, to the manner in which the litter is handled, are taken by those participating.
To participate in the Oct. 18 clean-up, or to learn more about the Adopt A Spot program, you may call Greg Smith, Anderson County Solid Waste Department director, at 260-1001 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.