The empirical evidence — that is, from our own eyes — is undeniable: Our county roadways are becoming more and more littered, seemingly every day. And we’re not alone. North Carolina Department of Transportation announced this week that transportation crews, contractors and volunteers have collected more than 3 million pounds of roadside litter this year.

To put that in other words, people have dumped or dropped 1,500 tons of litter on our roads since Jan. 1.

The 2021 Spring Litter Sweep, the NCDOT’s biannual statewide roadside litter removal program, is taking place in mid-April. Local efforts in the High Country begin April 10 with formal coordinators setting up individuals and teams with supplies and instructions, including how to be safe not only when picking up litter, but how to do so during a global pandemic (https://youtu.be/XyTbFkawqnI).

But all of this is to ask a simple question: Why? Why are we littering our roads and highways, raising concerns from issues involving health to tourism?

There is no good answer to this problem, but at the top surely is a lack of concern and respect for our county, our neighbors and our communities.

It has to stop, and that’s with each of us.

You may not consciously litter our roads — but do you always ensure that your loads are secured before driving? Unsecured trash results in litter.

Do you always hold onto your trash until it can be properly disposed of? A simple litter bag in your vehicle will take care of that.

And, do you recycle when possible? Recycling not only keeps trash off of the roads, but out of our landfills.

It’s tremendous that so many volunteers are willing not only during April but throughout the year to help clean our roads. But unless the problem starts at the source, NC Litter Sweep will be just another never-ending, governmental initiative.

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