How to clean up litter in Chattanooga, TN

Photo by Jiyoung Kim via Pexels

At the beginning of the year we asked you what 21 questions you’d like us to answer in 2021, and we loved all of your submissions, from the nitty gritty of highway construction to the latest in local developments.

Today, we’re answering a question we received from many of youwhat can we do about all the litter in our beautiful city?

Why is there so much trash?

We would probably have to wax philosophical to answer this question, so we’re going to skip ahead to why the litter isn’t being picked up.

In 2016, the Tennessee Legislature made changes to the state’s DUI laws — one of those changes took DUI offenders off litter pick-up duty during their second day of penalty and extended their jail time from 24 to 48 hours. The glaring result: more trash on our local highways.

And, that’s not where all the blame lies — yeah, you guessed it 2020 did its fair share, too. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, trash pick-ups were shut down for a large portion of last year, and litter was no longer on the forefront of our minds.

Well folks, it’s 2021 now and we’re done sitting around, so let’s talk trash. 👇

Scenic Cities Beautiful Commission

The Scenic Cities Beautiful Commission is a city board with a purpose to “provide a continuing litter control program, promote public interest in maintenance of a clean and beautiful environment, and instill natural resource and solid waste management ethics through education and volunteer involvement.”

Enter Jeanette Eigelsbach, the staff manager of the commission + the one who makes the magic happen. Jeanette told us that the way Scenic Cities Beautiful works is pretty simple — they find where there’s litter and pick it up.

Bonus: There’s a vacancy on the board for one more member.

Ready to clean up the city?

✅ Pick a location — keep in mind that pedestrians are not allowed to pick up trash on freeways and at on/off ramps.

✅ Identify a neighborhood leader who will connect with Jeanette

✅ Contact Jeanette with the following information:

  • Where and when do you want to collect litter?
  • Who will be picking up trash with you?
  • What supplies do you need?
  • Do you need help disposing of the trash?

✅ Pick up supplies from Jeanette

✅ Clean up your neighborhood and dispose of all the trash properly

Note: If you aren’t able to go out and pick up trash, you can call and report littering at 1-877-854-8837 or fill out this form online.

Tennessee CLEAN Act

The Tennessee CLEAN Act “creates a Tennessee CLEAN Commission made up of representatives [from different backgrounds] so a meaningful solution can be created that works for everyone.”

If you’re wondering, CLEAN stands for Cleaner Landscapes for the Economy, Agriculture, and Nature.

The commission is providing even more ways you can take action, from emailing your legislators and signing a petition to sending in photos of litter — check them all out here.

Plus, there are three goals the commission hopes to achieve in three years:

  1. To create a program that incentivizes Tennesseans to return at least 85 percent of certain plastic, glass, and aluminum containers to be recycled into raw materials
  2. To develop a program that reduces the use of single-use carryout bags
  3. To develop + implement a Tennessee litter program that addresses litter prevention and reduction

By the numbers

According to the Tennessee CLEAN Act:

✅ $15 million | Dollars that Tennessee taxpayers spend each year to pick up litter

✅ 100 million | Pieces of litter estimated to be on the state’s roadways

✅ 78,700 tons | Plastic bags thrown out in Tennessee each year

✅ 32 million | Pieces of microplastic the Tennessee River is dumping into the Ohio River every second

Those are some pretty big numbers, but there are small things we can do every day to help bring them down. Last year, we challenged you all to pick up one piece of trash every day — if every one of you reading this picks up one piece of trash a day, that’s over 30,000 pieces in 24 hours.

That’s part one of the challenge. The second part is to inspire others to do the same — take a photo of yourself picking up trash and tag us on Instagram, Twitter + Facebook, or use #NOOGAtoday, and we will share your hard work with the community + motivate others to join us in cleaning up the Scenic City. ✨

We have all the tools, now let’s get to work.

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