Most people have probably seen the blue and white signs along the highways indicating a family or group has "adopted" a section of that highway to clean up.
I signed up for such an effort this year on highway 175 East of Reinbeck.
I am still appalled at how much I have collected in just my 4 mile assigned area. Wow!!!
Approximately 2200 total items collected in just one round. DOT expects you to pickup a minimum of twice per year. These numbers are after only one pickup.
Approximately 660 (30%) of those items were refundable items such as beer and pop cans or bottles. There was a 60-40 split of these in favor of pop containers vs. beer containers. All will be donated to help support Reinbeck's July 4th celebration.
Approximately 660 (30%) of those items were recyclable items such as water bottles, energy drink containers, plastic sandwich containers, etc. These items will
be added to the recyclable dumpster at NAPA's, assuming they are acceptable.
The remaining 40% of the items are genuine trash, most of which it appears fell from vehicles: miscellaneous car parts, roofing materials, wood, etc.
The point of this letter is to demonstrate how bad our littering problem is today. If the above numbers are applied to the thousands of miles of highway in Iowa, the numbers become staggering. Imagine what the numbers would be if we did not have a refundable container law!
Maybe it's time our littering laws get strictly enforced. As an individual you can enforce the laws as well as a law person. You can record the license number of a vehicle you see littering and turn that information into the sheriff's office.
Maybe it's time to make all plastic, metal and glass containers refundable at a level high enough to ensure their return to a point of sales.
Maybe fast foods (pizza, burgers, sandwiches, etc.) should be packaged in biodegradable containers instead of plastic. This may not solve the problem completely but at least it diminishes the amount of plastics going into the ditches. If plastic containers are the only way, then maybe they should be refundable as well.
Maybe plastic grocery bags should be banned in favor of reusable ones or paper ones.
People will likely call me an absurd tree hugger for this letter but the numbers don't lie. I had no idea how bad the problem was OR how easy it would be to reduce the litter in the ditches.
The roads leading into Reinbeck can invite people to our town with their cleanliness or dissuade people from stopping when they are full of litter. Let's put the welcome mat out and keep our highways clean.
Ray H. Rannfeldt