Spring is here - but our closets and drawers aren't the only things that can use a little cleaning. As Pennsylvanians venture outdoors to enjoy the warmth and sun of the season while hiking, boating, enjoying sports, or sightseeing, we're reminded that our sidewalks, roads, highways and parks also need our attention.
Home to bountiful natural resources, beautiful landscapes and stunning countrysides, Pennsylvania is a beautiful state – but also one with a litter problem. That one piece of trash tossed out a window by a careless traveler becomes an unsightly mess cluttering our scenic roadsides. Whether it's cigarette butts, plastic food packaging, or bottles tossed to the ground after an outing, overflowing trash cans, improperly secured truckloads, or heaps of illegally dumped tires – littering is happening in every rural, suburban and urban area of the Commonwealth.
This Earth Day, which marks the 51st year of activism on behalf of our environment, I want to remind all Pennsylvanians that we share an important responsibility to keep our communities clean and beautiful for current and future generations to enjoy. PennDOT spends upward of $14 million cleaning up roadside litter every year. It costs approximately $600 per ton to clean up an illegal dumpsite and it is estimated that there are thousands of illegal dumpsites across Pennsylvania. And, our work doesn't stop there.
In June 2018, Pennsylvania established Act 62, which designated certain segments of our roads as Litter Enforcement Corridors – a tool to help the state crack down on litter and dumping. These road segments generally have a high aesthetic or historic value that are worth preserving and are marked with signs to notify motorists.
This year, PennDOT hosted anti-litter media events in conjunction with The Pennsylvania State Police and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful to highlight these Litter Enforcement Corridors.
In addition, PennDOT encourages taking part in Pick Up Pennsylvania which is underway until May 31, and joining our Adopt A Highway program which takes place year-round.
There are many ways to participate in Earth Day, whether it's contributing to large-scale global initiatives or making conscious decisions to live a more environmentally conscious life.
Litter is a problem for us all – but let's all work together to keep our communities clean and free of litter.