When you look around the Macon-Bibb County community, there seems to be one constant in almost every section: trash. It’s not that the county’s Public Works Department isn’t doing its job. It’s not that Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful is not on the case and it’s not that law enforcement isn’t pitching in where it can to enforce the anti-litter laws already on the books.
Our community needs to have a serious Old School conversation that starts with, “Don’t Throw It Out” and “Pick It Up.” It needs to be said by parents, teachers, grandparents and every citizen. Why? Because it doesn’t matter how many resources are deployed to pick up trash, there can never be enough if those responsible for throwing it out in the first place don’t stop. We all see it. And while we’d like to blame it on children and teenagers, we can’t in all honesty do that. We’ve all seen adults treat our streets like their personal trash bins, too, dumping everything from cigarette ashes to fast food wrappers to old mattresses for someone else to pick up and properly discard.
There will be times when we willl have to say “Pick That Up” and there will be other times when we can get the same message across with a disapproving look. In 2015, stepped up enforcement was initiated and citizens could call Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful office’s dedicated hotline at 478-330-7053, if they witnessed someone throwing trash from a vehicle. And as we wrote in an editorial at the time, ”they will need to give the license plate number and state, description of the car or truck, type of trash, location, date and time. And, while we don’t advocate taking a picture while driving, if a passenger snaps one of the culprit that would be OK.”
There have been several individuals and neighborhood groups that have taken the challenge of litter seriously and held clean up campaigns. Civic groups have adopted particular highway offramps. Unfortunately, there is always something for them to do because we have stopped training our citizens to “Not Throw It Out” and to “Pick It Up” if we drop it.
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We all want visitors to our area to be impressed, but that’s difficult to do when they pull off one of our interstates and the first thing they see is litter. That reflects badly on all the hard work that’s being done to keep Macon-Bbb beautiful.