Litter is far more than just annoying trash on the street or cigarette butts on the sidewalk. It impacts economic development, quality of life and the safety of South Carolina communities.
A litter study by Keep America Beautiful determined the following:
- Cities, counties and states spend $1.3 billion annually to address litter. This number is a low estimate and only covers line item budget amounts. Cities pay the bulk of that amount: $797 million.
- 36 percent of business development representatives say that litter factors into a decision to locate to a community.
- The presence of litter decreases property values by 7 percent.
- Improperly secured truck and cargo loads, including collection vehicles, comprise 20.7 percent of litter more than 4 inches in size.
- Vehicle debris and improperly secured containers, dumpsters, trash cans or residential waste/recycling bins represent another 8.1 percent of litter that is greater than 4 inches.
The General Assembly established PalmettoPride, the state's litter watchdog organization, not only to eradicate litter but also to change the behavior that causes people to litter.
"We want to eradicate litter, promote beautification projects and improve quality of life for everyone," says Esther Wagner, Prideways program manager at PalmettoPride. "Preventing litter is the best anti-litter strategy. Picking up litter costs three times as much as removing properly disposed trash. Many communities are focusing on litter prevention and awareness efforts to change the societal norm of littering."
Through education, enforcement support and community involvement, PalmettoPride offers cities a variety of resources that can be tailored to each city's needs.
- Nonmatching grants are available to any anti-litter or beautification program on publicly accessible property. Community groups and municipalities can receive up to $2,500 and $10,000, respectively.
- Free classes are available to any South Carolina resident through the Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design program. CPTED is based on the arrangement and design of buildings and open spaces to discourage undesirable behavior and criminal activity. CPTED works by decreasing opportunities for crime and increasing the chances that a legitimate user will see and report crime as it occurs.
- Municipalities throughout the world are adopting CPTED ordinances requiring site plan reviews with crime prevention and safety in mind. PalmettoPride instructors will train city leaders and individuals on the concepts without charge as well as provide help to a city to implement the strategies.
Getting involved in litter prevention has never been easier. The PalmettoPride Trash Tracker app allows individuals to report litterbugs, illegal dumpsites and areas that need attention in all 46 counties. It's available through the App Store or through Google Play.
Grant opportunities and other PalmettoPride programs that cities can use will be presented at an Annual Meeting breakout session at 3:15 p.m., Friday, July 21.