A litter problem exists in Beaufort County. How do we fix it?

Published 12:00 pm Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Beaufort County has a serious problem. Trash along our roadways and waterways is negatively impacting many aspects of our lives, whether we realize it or not. To solve this problem, we must come together and focus on preventing trash where it does not belong and disposing of it properly. 

The most important step going forward is addressing the litter in the first place. The amount of cleanup efforts don’t matter if the trash is still being thrown out by our neighbors. Make sure to secure all loose articles before driving along the roadways and dispose of all waste properly to ensure you are not contributing to this widespread issue. 

The department of transportation has several programs established to help curb the increase of litter on our roadways. 

  • Swat-A-Litterbug is a program that allows you to report individuals when you witness someone littering. The reporting form can be found online on the DOT’s website at https://www.ncdot.gov. If reported for littering, you can face steep fines and being sentenced to community service. 
  • Adopt-A-Highway was established in 1988 following an uptick in complaints regarding roadside trash. This volunteer program allows a group to commit to cleaning up a two mile stretch of road. The program is free but the DOT does have some requirements for groups who participate, including hosting at least four different cleanup events along the two mile stretch annually for four years. 
  • Similar to Adopt-A-Highway, Sponsor-A-Highway allows businesses or organizations to select a one mile stretch of road. This does involve a fee but this money goes toward paying for the upkeep of the mile of road and the business is honored through an official sign placed along the road. 
  • The bi-annual Litter Sweep will be held from April 10-24. This event promotes cleanup efforts along the roadside and has DOT workers dedicate one week to cleaning roadways and collecting trash gathered by volunteers. If interested in participating, the DOT will provide all necessary collection materials and will dispose of litter once collected for the volunteers. 

In addition to these statewide efforts, many county residents are looking to make an impact and decrease the amount of trash along our roadways and waterways. Every piece of trash that is littered along our roads and highways ultimately end up in one of our bodies of water. 

Organizations like Sound Rivers and community members within Pamlico Plantation and Cypress Landing are spreading awareness and spearheading efforts to clean up the litter that ends up in our waterways. These cleanup efforts are essential to decreasing the amount of harmful items like plastic that can impact our wildlife and biodiversity. 

If you have noticed an increase in litter along our roads and waterways, do something. The problem will only continue to persist if we do not do our part in preventing litter and cleaning up what trash already exists.