Peanut the Turtle - like the tortoise in the fabled race with the hare - has a moral to impart.
Peanut is a living example of troubles caused by trash and is serving as the unofficial mascot of this year's No MOre Trash Bash.
The annual campaign includes litter cleanup and related activities throughout April and is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
Participants will receive a thank you pin commemorating the 30th birthday of Peanut, who has been cared for by the conservation agency since 1993. She was given her name because, when she was young, she crawled into a discarded plastic six-pack ring, which got hung on her shell. Her shell grew, but the ring remained, giving her the shape of a peanut.
The detriment to wildlife was cited by Joe Jerek, the conservation agency's coordinator of the bash. "Birds, fish, turtles and other animals get tangled in litter, such as plastic six-pack holders and fishing line, and it can kill them," Jerek said. "Litter poisons fish, birds and other wildlife and can cost a litterer up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail."
In addition to the threat to wildlife, trash in parks, neighborhoods, waterways and along roadside also is unsightly.
April's clean-up activities will include educational efforts in schools, through community events, Earth Day celebrations, media promotions and more.
For more information or to learn how to participate, visit www.nomoretrash.org or call 888-ASK-MODOT (888-275-6636).
Finally, volunteer clean-up efforts offset costs to the state and help direct more tax dollars to other transportation and conservation initiatives.
Annual volunteer efforts to pick up trash on Missouri highways are valued at $1.5 million.
Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT's coordinator for the event said: "Litter is a big problem because it's unattractive, costly and harmful to the environment. 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."
We couldn't agree more. But until the time comes when people stop dropping litter and dumping trash, we encourage Missourians to participate in the No MOre Trash Bash.