A statewide drive will focus on cleaning up litter

Missourians from every corner of the state are asked to do spring cleaning outdoors and help fight litter through the state’s annual No MOre Trash! Bash throughout April.

The event is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) as part of their ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide anti-litter campaign. It encourages people to clean up litter all across Missouri, from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams, trails and other places. Trash Bash activities in April also include educational efforts in schools, through community events, Earth Day celebrations, media promotions and more.

Programs such as the Trash Bash, Adopt-A-Highway and Stream Teams help offset the cost of litter clean up and allow MoDOT and MDC to devote resources to other much- needed tasks. In 2012, Missouri Stream Team Program volunteers removed 689 tons of litter from waterways and dedicated more than $3 million dollars’ worth of volunteer time to litter removal statewide. Annual volunteer efforts to pick up trash on Missouri highways are valued at $1.5 million.

“Litter is a big problem because it’s unattractive, costly, and harmful to the environment,” said Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT No MOre Trash! coordinator. “If more people would keep their trash and properly dispose of it, or, better yet, recycle it, we would reduce the amount of litter we need to pick up in the first place.”

Littering isn’t just ugly, it also hurts wildlife and Missouri outdoors.

“Birds, fish, turtles and other animals get tangled in litter, such as plastic six-pack holders and fishing line, and it can kill them,” said Conservation Department No MOre Trash! Coordinator Joe Jerek. “Litter poisons fish, birds and other wildlife, and can cost a litterer up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail.”

Volunteers are needed across the state to participate in litter cleanup activities. Participants can report their cleanup efforts and will receive a thank you No MOre Trash! pin specially designed to commemorate the 30th birthday of the campaign mascot Peanut the Turtle.

Peanut is a living example of how litter can affect wildlife. When young, the turtle crawled into a plastic six-pack ring that someone had thrown on the ground instead of a trash can. The ring got hung on her shell. Eventually, her shell grew but the ring stayed on giving her the shape of a peanut. She was found and taken to the St. Louis Zoo where the ring was cut off. She has lived with the Missouri Department of Conservation since 1993.

For more information and to learn how to participate, visit nomoretrash.org or call 888-ASK-MODOT(1-888-275-6636).

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