HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and his administration teamed up with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful representatives to launch a new statewide anti-litter campaign titled, “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”
The commonwealth’s first-ever Litter Action Plan, released last year, was a popular recommendation at both the state and local government levels.
“As a commonwealth we recognize we need to change behavior, not just clean up the mess,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “With our collective efforts and this litter-prevention campaign we are confident we can reduce litter in Pennsylvania.”
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The campaign is asking every Pennsylvanian to be sure that every piece of their trash is disposed of properly, regardless of size. A research study funded by the anti-litter campaign found that only 3% of Pennsylvania residents are okay with littering.
“Litter isn’t just ugly to look at. It can cause environmental contamination and put public health at risk,” said Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh. “Litter can leach chemicals into our land and water, and act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.”
The anti-litter campaign is in response to the 2019 Pennsylvania Litter Research Study, which found that the commonwealth has upwards of 500 million pieces of trash and litter on its roadways; Most pieces of those pieces of trash/litter, approximately 85%, are less than four inches in size.
Improving aesthetics and morale is an obvious upside of reducing litter. However, cleaning the trash off of Pennsylvania’s streets and roads will also help bring down the current $350 million in litter-related costs each year.
“As we work hand-in-hand with local community leaders, they frequently mention the challenges they face with litter – a challenge that impacts property values, business attraction, quality of life, health, and so much more,” said DCED Acting Secretary Neil Weaver. “By preventing littering from occurring, we are saving communities valuable time and money in litter removal.”
Pennsylvania State Police issued 661 citations and 562 warnings related to anti-littering laws from January 1 through June 30 of 2022.
“The Pennsylvania State Police is committed to keeping Pennsylvania beautiful by enforcing the state’s litter laws,” said Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Robert Evanchick. “Littering is 100 percent preventable with fines beginning at $300. The public is encouraged to report any litter violation they witness by contacting their local law enforcement agency.”
The new anti-litter campaign is also celebrating the new partnership between Pennsylvania’s Young Ambassadors Program with PennDOT and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB). The program, which is accepting applications right now, welcomes 10th through 12th grade students to help keep their state clean.
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“We are honored to offer the Young Ambassadors of Pennsylvania Program in partnership with PennDOT. We know the students of today hold the key to a sustainable future. We’re excited to work with and guide this group of Young Ambassadors to implement change in their communities and the commonwealth,” said Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President Shannon Reiter.
The students who are chosen will commit to nine months of helping KPB with various education and training workshops as well as community clean up events. For more information about the Young Ambassadors Program, click here.
To learn more about the PA Fights Dirty campaign, click here.