Doing Our Part To Keep Pennsauken Litter Free

By Betsy McBride, Mayor of Pennsauken Township

As I write this column, we are basking in 70 degree temperatures and our plants are starting to bud. Even if we get another blast of winter, our thoughts turn to spring. We are almost there!

I know when I think of spring, I feel it in my bones and I want to spring clean: open the windows, clean the car, and turn my winter yard into a spring one.

Looking around my yard, I see I have some work to do. Do I go back in and pretend I didn’t see the mess? Or do I set to the task? I know I will feel better if I clean up the yard, both in my body and my mind. I will get some exercise and I will appreciate the beauty as it unfolds. Sitting on my porch in the evening, I will feel good. When the space around us looks better, we can’t help but feel better.

Noticing how good I feel after I have cleaned up my yard, I also notice how bad I feel when I see litter on our highways, along our streets, in front of our stores, and in our yards. All trash is not litter. Litter is trash not put in the right place. I think we can work together to deal with this issue.

Most of our litter is tossed from cars and boats. Many folks leave a fast food restaurant, a convenience store, or a business in our community, hop in the car, and wind up tossing a food wrapper, a cigarette butt, or an unneeded receipt out the window as they hit the road. We can do our part by 1.) Not being one of those folks and 2.) Picking up litter when it blows onto our properties.

Did you know that nine billion tons of litter ends up in our oceans each year? And more to the point, 95 percent of it comes from storm sewers. So, it’s likely that the trash along our highways and neighborhood streets will end up going down our sewers and traveling to the shore. If we pick up trash in the street in front of our home or business, we are doing our part to prevent that trip… and our properties will look better right away.

Did you also know that 50 percent of all litter is cigarette butts? And they take 10 years to disintegrate? I’ve been quitting smoking for 20 years, and even I have to stop myself occasionally from just tossing a cigarette butt anywhere. And I know manufacturers took ashtrays out of cars making it tough on smokers, but we need to think before we toss. An old water bottle with brown water may not look good on our floor of our car, but it can be tossed in a trash can when we get home. It certainly beats seeing them littered throughout our community.

We all know that broken yard furniture, tube TVs and broken appliances are litter when left in our yard or dumped on the side of the road. We can do our part by calling Public Works to find out how to dispose of them correctly and do it. We even have a business right here in town, Magnum Recycling, which accepts a wide variety of electronic waste. It isn’t always an easy task, but it’s the right thing to do. Pennsauken will look better… and you’ll feel better too.

Preventing our own litter and cleaning up our properties all the way to the street is a start. As your Mayor, I will do my part by removing litter from my yard and the street in front. I will contact responsible parties to clean up public spaces and I will participate in organized clean up days. Please join me and do your part. Every “litter” bit counts!

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