I was so glad to see the editorial in our April 7 Watauga Democrat (“Solving this problem begins at the source”) addressing our problem with roadside litter. We live in one of the most beautiful areas in America, bar none, and we need to figure out ways to solve our litter problem.

Here are some thoughts I’ve had:

• Most people would never litter intentionally. I firmly believe that 95 percent of Wataugans do not throw fast food bags and aluminum cans from their car windows. Our problem is that just a few habitual litterbugs can make quite a mess, and we’ve got the roadsides to prove it. Imagine this situation over three days’ time: day one, 100 Watauga drivers toss out litter, we might not notice it that much; day two, those same drivers throw out similar trash, and we begin to see it; day three, the exact same litterbugs do their work and we’re moaning again about our problem.

• Citizen groups can organize to help with roadside clean-up. Recently a group of Zionville adults rallied through Facebook to clean most of new U.S. 421 from the Tennessee line down to Vilas — a Herculean effort appreciated by all of us in western Watauga County (and we are still applauding).

• Churches can help out, too. Our church, Mabel United Methodist, has conducted three roadside clean-ups each year for about 35 years. We get orange bags and vests from DOT, and we try to cover 6-8 miles of old U.S. 421, Mabel School Road, Walls Road, parts of Silverstone Road and Joe Shoemaker Road. We stay on the “back roads” for safety’s sake since some of us are getting up in years.

• Since NCDOT’s Spring Litter Sweep is going on right now, this is a good time to decide what we as individuals can do to help. The April 7 editorial reminded us to secure trash bags en route to a dumpster site, to keep a litter bag handy in the car and to practice personal recycling as much as possible. Let’s try to take other steps, too. One possibility is that individuals could “adopt” one hundred yards of public road (near their homes) and clean it up each month. Remember, it’s good exercise, it sets a good example, and it’s rewarding — you’re helping solve the problem!

• What other ideas are out there? I know our county can work together on this.

Mary Sue Morgan


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