Can we reduce litter like Iowa does?
Recently I was at a stop sign behind a sports car when the driver tossed out a cigarette butt. I wanted to honk at him but decided perhaps it would be best not to spark a potential road rage incident.
Last week, I blogged about the new Our Wisconsin magazine. On Saturday, I actually carved time to read most of it. I found the last item on a page called “Leftovers” particularly interesting.
Several states, including Iowa, have started “No Litter” programs. Iowa found it cost taxpayers $13.5 million annually to clean up litter and debris. So three years ago, according to the magazine, a concerned group teamed up with Iowa law enforcement and started a campaign that has dropped those costs considerably.
When someone spots a litterbug, the offended person calls 1-800-NOLITTR and reports the offender’s license number. Then, a polite but pointed letter is sent to that driver’s address stating, “A citizen reported seeing you littering.” It points out the annual cost to taxpayers and says “we’d appreciate your cooperation.”
This program alleviates the need for personal contact and any potential confrontation between the litterer and the observer. Many Iowans, the magazine reports, now have the “No Litter” number programmed on their cellphones for fast action.
Our Wisconsin magazine thinks this program is worth pursuing, and editors plan to make it one of their missions. I think it’s a good idea, too. That’s particularly true after considering it when I took the pup for a walk Saturday and noticed how all that melted snow exposed litter that has been accumulating this winter. Near the corner of Milwaukee Street and Randall Avenue, I spent several minutes using one of the plastic bags I carry on such walks to collect shards of glass from a Bud Lite bottle that someone shattered all over the sidewalk.
Maybe I’ll forward this blog to state Sen. Tim Cullen and new Rep. Deb Kolste, both of Janesville. Perhaps they can get the ball rolling on such a “No Litter” program in Wisconsin.
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow him on Twitter or