You Paid For It: $65 million for litter clean-up in Hampton Roads

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by David Alan, 13News

WVEC.com

Posted on August 22, 2012 at 6:11 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 17 at 2:21 PM

NORFOLK - You don't have to look very hard to find litter: fast food bags and bottles, old tires and mattresses, beer cans and more.  It lines the highways, collects in alleyways and threatens waterways.  

"I think people who litter sometimes... it is a home training thing," one person said.

When we don't care enough to dump our trash properly, someone has to pick up after us and we're paying for it.  The cost across the country was $1.3 billion last year or about $38 a person.  In Hampton Roads, the cost was $65 million.

“We could save a lot of money if people would just pick up after themselves," a concerned taxpayer said.”

Dr. Christian Loy of Christopher Newport University has studied litter.  Loy likened litter to the 'broken window theory.' You see one and you'll eventually see more.

“So if you are in an area that has a lot of litter, you will be more tempted to litter," he explained.

Norfolk spends about $100,000 a week picking up litter that includes 1,800 abandoned shopping carts a year.

The city says the litter problem is getting better and officials hope a new three-year program will help even more. John Deuel, executive director of Keep Norfolk Beautiful, says, "We spend too much money on litter. If people took care of it in the first place, we wouldn't have to do this."

A vast majority of people say they want a clean environment, yet the Virginia Aquarium picks up a thousand cigarette butts a week despite 'Bait Tanks' put out to collect them.

90% of Virginia Beach's operation's budget of $1.7 million goes to picking up trash and litter. More than half of the trash left at bus stops and outside businesses is chewing gum and candy wrappers.

Private businesses spend 10 times more than local governments do to pick-up litter. We all pay for that as well.

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