NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Roadside trash is a multimillion-dollar problem across Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates that 100 million pieces of trash get tossed onto roadways every year. TDOT Transportation Program Supervisor Denise Baker said the department spends a whopping $19 million annually on cleaning up litter.
“Spending $19 million on anything is very expensive, and we would love to put that money toward other program areas in the state of Tennessee,” Baker said.
The “Nobody Trashes Tennessee” campaign was created in 2016, with the goal of education and a call to action for residents of the volunteer state.
“What we’re really focusing on is changing behavior of Tennesseans in the state,” Baker said. “If you see litter, pick it up. Be mindful of covered load laws here in the state of Tennessee, so if you are carrying something in a truck, make sure you’re covering your load.”
The campaign has introduced figures such as “Trashsquatch.” He tours Tennessee spreading an anti-litter message.
Then there’s “Red Plastic Cup,” a would-be piece of trash with his own talk show. He invites guests to the show, including former Titans player Eddie George.
“Our job is to protect those resources,” George said in a promotional video. “There’s nothing worse than seeing some ugly trash on our roadways.”
Nobody Trashes Tennessee goes beyond characters and caricatures to provide options for action, including the legacy Adopt-a-Highway program and a hotline where you can report litterbugs, who will be sent an informational care package.
“If you see a vehicle throwing litter, they will receive an informational packet about why it’s bad to litter and about the environmental, economic effects that litter has on your community.”
If you are caught littering by a law enforcement official, you could be forced to pay a fine and/or be asked to perform public service.