Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful Litter Index
Reno has some cleaning to do, in more ways than one. But it can start with keeping its litter in check.
Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, the local chapter of environmental nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, has released the results of its yearly Litter Index, which surveys the region—spanning Verdi to Sparks and broken down into 25 areas—on its cleanliness. The 25 areas are divided into categories: open spaces, freeways and neighborhoods. Teams of community volunteers rank each area on a scale of one to four. According to KAB’s guidelines, “one means virtually no litter can be observed … four indicates that major illegal dumpsites are present, requiring equipment or extra manpower for removal.” Twenty-five volunteers participated this year, and were trained beforehand to know what to look for.
“The index helps us so we can raise awareness in the community,” says KTMB director Christi Cakiroglu. “Our hope is to raise awareness about maintaining a clean community. People don’t want to conduct business in a dirty city. Housing prices are affected by it. It’s pretty relevant in these economic times.”
The litter index is one of several programs KTMB produces to help combat waste, including the Christmas tree recycling program and the Waste Warriors chapters in local schools.
“We want to make people aware of the alternatives, especially about illegal dumping,” says Cakiroglu. KTMB has an Illegal Dumping Task Force, comprised of organizations in the community, to give residents year-round resources for properly disposing of large, unwanted items.
This year, the region scored a 1.7, compared to the 1.4 scored last year. The lower the score, the cleaner the city. To compare to other cities, Bakersfield, Calif., received a 1.77 in late 2011; Hampton, Va., was graded 1.48 in 2011; and Glendale, Calif., scored a 1.51.
According to Cakiroglu, the increase can be due to several factors.
“It could be that it was a really windy spring and summer,” says Cakiroglu. “It could be someone’s trash can tipped over, and no one picked it up. It could be an increase in population.”
Southeast, southwest and northwest Reno neighborhoods each scored a 1, as did Horizon Hills and the 395 north and south freeways. Other areas did not fare as well—Pyramid Way received a 4, and 395 central’s score of 3 was the second highest. Last year, both of these locations had scored a 1. Most other neighborhoods ranked between 1.1 and 2.4.
Data from 2001 and 2006 indicates a fluctuation of litter. For instance, in 2001, Spanish Springs was given a rank of 3.8. This year, it received a 1.6. In total, seven areas improved, 15 had more litter, and three remained stable.
“The entire community is our focus, but there are some areas that need more TLC,” says Cakiroglu. “There are some areas where residents are far more active.”
Cakiroglu says that residents can help in small ways, such as making sure trash can lids are firmly closed and not letting items fly out of cars. The most common items found during the index are cigarettes and plastic bags.