Guest blog by Genaya MacMillan, CMP, president of the MPI Atlantic Canada Chapter
Why do people litter? I’ve always wondered. Don’t they have a tiny version of their mother on their shoulder like I do, who shakes her finger at me, if I even dare to think of dropping something on the ground?
Doing research in an effort to coordinate a street cleanup for the MPI Atlantic Canada Chapter’s 2012 Events for Communities of Sustainability (ECOS) project, I found the general consensus is that people who litter do so because they feel no sense of personal ownership. And because any and all items used in human activity have the potential for being littered, the scale of the issue is significant—more significant than I realized! Studies show and experience proves that litter attracts more litter. A clean community discourages littering and raises the local living standard and quality of life.
We have an amazing provincial program in Nova Scotia called Adopt-A-Highway, and this program gives volunteers a chance to help their communities by collecting litter on roadside areas. It started with 18 volunteer groups and is now made up of more than 160 volunteer groups who have adopted secondary roadsides and 100-series highways, and they collect an average of 6,000 bags of garbage and recyclable materials per year. This program offers a free and easy way for groups to help communities and make some visible impact. Adopt-A-Highway and the Department of Transportation will provide volunteers with permits, safety vests and litter bags. They also assist with transporting the collected litter to approved landfill sites. After our initial clean up, the Adopt-A-Highway program will place two signs on our 5km stretch of road with the MPI Atlantic Canada Chapter noted as the group who has adopted the road, and my hope is that our chapter will continue this program on an annual basis.
Research shows that adopted roads and highway are generally less littered than roads that are not. This is certainly an excellent way for our chapter to give back to our community, and the impacts will be felt for years to come.