Our Opinion: Stewardship would ease burden of trash cleanup

News Tribune editorial

We join with two state agencies to say thank you to the many Missourians who participated in the “No MOre Trash! Bash” this spring.

The numbers have been tallied by the sponsoring state agencies, the Missouri departments of Conservation and Transportation (MoDOT).

And those numbers are impressive. They include:

• Collection of 129,255 bags of trash from roadsides, parks, rivers and streams. Litter and trash are not only eyesores, they pose perils for the state’s wildlife and fish.

“Animals get tangled in litter, such as plastic six-pack holders and discarded fishing line, and it hurts and kills them.” said Joe Jerek, the Conservation agency’s coordinator for the cleanup.

• Participation included 16,000 volunteers representing 1,000 groups. In April in this forum, we encouraged participation in the cleanup, noting that many hands lighten the load.

Among the participants, according to Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT roadside management specialist, were “conservation groups, Adopt-A-Highway members, Stream Teams, inmates, MoDOT employees and many other volunteers.”

• MoDOT spends $5 million annually to clean up litter and trash. Volunteer initiatives, including the Trash Bash and Adopt-A-Highway Programs, enhance our environment while saving tax dollars.

An additional benefit — and one that is difficult to quantify — is improving attitudes and behaviors when it comes to our surroundings.

In connection with the cleanup, educational initiatives were conducted at schools, rest areas, communities and Earth Day celebrations.

The emphasis was not only on cleaning up, but on prevention.

In reporting the cleanup results, Armstrong reminded that “if more people would keep their trash and properly dispose of it, or better yet, recycle it, we would reduce the amount of litter we need to pick up in the first place.”

When you recycle or dispose of trash properly, you beautify the environment, protect wildlife and fish, save tax dollars that can be devoted to other needs and set an example for future generations.

We commend the cleanup volunteers for shouldering the burden of nearly 130,000 trash bags.

More importantly, we thank them for demonstrating that stewardship of our environment — which includes proper trash disposal — is comparatively easy.

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