Editorial: Keep Sevier Beautiful has good ideas on how to stop litter

Jun. 08, 2013 @ 11:00 PM

For  a county that attracts 12 million or more visitors each year, with an economy based on people coming to see us and coming back again and again, we sometimes fail to put our best face on what these folks see. We have a litter problem, as anyone who drives the roadways of Sevier County knows.

It’s illegal to toss trash from your vehicle, but thoughtless, irresponsible people do it all the time. Actually, trucks carrying loads that are uncovered create a bigger problem than you think.

Because an estimated 70 percent of roadway litter comes from uncovered loads, Tennessee passed a code in 2007 mandating that any motor vehicle transporting litter must have the material inside an enclosed space or fully covered by a tarpaulin. A first-time conviction could result in a $500 fine, court costs, and 40 hours of litter pick-up as a community service. A $1,500 fine is possible for a second offense, along with up to six months of litter duty.

“People don’t think about the potential of (litter) flying off or what it does to the environment. If someone hits it, it’s everywhere,” said Laura Howard of Keep Sevier Beautiful. “That’s why Keep Sevier Beautiful wants to step in and make sure people have the information they need.”

Keep Sevier Beautiful has partnered with Sevier County Stormwater and Sheriff Ron Seals to raise awareness of the county’s litter laws and the consequences for those who do it. As a first step, Keep Sevier Beautiful is offering to train cabin management teams on the litter law and how to properly secure loads of litter. In addition, KSB is also offering free tarpaulins to local businesses.

Unsecured loads are often a problem in areas such as Wears Valley, where many overnight cabin rentals are located, Howard said. “A lot of the business contract out their cleaning service, so we want to make sure they are given the tools and information about how to properly haul litter,” Howard said.

This is a great idea, another example of how, under Howard’s effective leadership, Keep Sevier Beautiful is becoming a force for good in this community. Education and awareness may be strong elements to a successful campaign to reduce roadside litter. Businesses whose trash help to create the problem should be cooperative in seeking a solution.