Litter lobbers beware

Have you ever seen a person toss something thoughtlessly out the car window?

Take a short trip to the grocery store and chances are you’ll see a trail of carelessness. It starts once you leave the well-maintained neighborhood that surrounds your house. At the first stoplight of a busy intersection, you see a beat-up Styrofoam cup stuck in a drainage ditch. As you turn onto the main road, you notice candy wrappers and plastic bottles lining the curbs.

If you pay attention to the trash, it can tell you what’s to come. The bright fast food bag tells you to take a left for a quick meal, while the shopping bag caught in roadside shrubs lets you know the grocery store is near.

Community appearance is important in a number of ways. It influences our sense of pride in the place we live, work and play. And it tells visitors a lot about our community as well, good or bad. One local non-profit organization, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, fights to improve our community appearance on a daily basis.

Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful recently completed its annual Litter Index survey of the Truckee Meadows region, with the help of staff, board members and volunteers from the Upward Bound program and the Community Development office at the University of Nevada, Reno. While driving through sections of Reno, Sparks and Washoe County, we searched for litter alongside roads, hidden under bushes, beside buildings, in alleyways and throughout the open desert. Eighteen sections of our area were evaluated on a one (no litter) to four (heavily littered) scale.

The Litter Index results suggest a good news/bad news scenario. Overall, the community is relatively clean, registering just over 2.2 for the entire region. Residential neighborhoods are generally quite litter-free.

However, our most visible spaces—the gateways and commuter roads and roads in commercial areas that our visitors see first—are often heavily littered. Trash accumulates in ditches, along fence lines and in empty lots.

What do these results mean for residents of the Truckee Meadows? Take action! Show a sense of ownership and pride in your community. Keep taking care of what’s already clean, and organize a cleanup of what isn’t. Your school can initiate a neighborhood cleanup. Businesses, churches and other groups can adopt a stretch of roadway. Or get involved in an established cleanup near you.

KTMB will be happy to connect volunteers with existing programs or help establish new neighborhood cleanups. Call us about our Adopt-A-Spot and Adopt-A-Park programs, about long-established community cleanups such as Campus to Keystone and Sparks Clean Sweep, and about brand-new initiatives including the Central Reno Cleanup and the Swan Lake Project. If you’re interested in recycling or if you’re in search of an informative presentation, we have our Christmas Tree and Phone Book Recycling programs and "The Trash Lady™" program on recycling and waste reduction. From groups to individuals, from young people to community elders, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful relies on volunteers who want to make a difference. Call 851-5185 to get involved.