It’s a surprising number, perhaps, and certainly a disgusting one. Last year, volunteers and prison work crews and civic clubs, etc. – thousands of people – collected 7.5 million pounds of trash along North Carolina roadsides. That there would be so many lazy slobs (“litterers” seems too classy for ’em) who would toss or leave their trash along our state’s roads is enough to make one lose faith in humankind, or a lot of its members, anyway.
A fitting response would be to take a share of that trash and dump it in the yards of those who contributed to it, and then seek someone to administer a good whipping.
All right, all right. Not realistic, maybe. But it’s fun to think about.
What’s not fun to consider is that North Carolina has a littering problem, and the state Department of Transportation is moving to do something about it. Because of closed prisons and budget reductions, the state doesn’t have as many prisoners working the roadsides as it used to. (Prisoners aren’t paid much, but they have to be guarded and transported.)
There remain some faithful volunteers in the Adopt-a-Highway program and just some good anonymous citizens who get to the highways on a regular basis to try to do their part. But a new program, Sponsor-A-Highway, offers businesses a chance to pay an up-front fee ($650) for a sign with their logo on it and a monthly fee ($300) so that two California-based companies can hire workers to clean one-mile stretches of roadway.
The program is in its infancy. But we have to hope, as does the DOT (which doesn’t handle the money or make the arrangements), that it gains popularity and grows to be robust.