I saw on local TV news earlier this week that litter cleanup cost Pennsylvania taxpayers more than $10 million in 2013! The problem in my eyes is threefold.
First, the fine for littering is too low at $300. The state should make it at least $1,000 — yes, even for cigarette butts.
Second, programs in Earth sciences need to be started in our schools beginning in the first grade. Kids have no idea of the impact that littering has on our economy and they have no idea that it is wrong. They see their parents doing it so it must be OK. They need to know what the cost is to clean up all this garbage and the cost of lost revenue because companies don’t want to invest in areas that are the equivalent of a countywide pigsty.
Third, since cigarette butts, plastic bottles and aluminum cans are the “Big 3” items for litterers, the state should impose an additional 25 cents per pack tax on cigarettes to be used exclusively for litter cleanup expenses. A 25-cent per can and plastic bottle deposit should be added for all beverage containers. If this were done, people would think twice about throwing quarters out the window.
In closing, I feel that every media outlet in the city (every TV and radio station as well as all local newspapers) should designate an entire week for promoting litter cleanup ideas and prevention. Offer monetary awards for the best ideas. So how about it, Pittsburgh? Are you ready to rein in this evil monster called litter and make the Pittsburgh area one of the cleanest regions in the country?