TRASHING OUR ENVIRONMENT

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Many people assume poverty is the root cause of our litter strewn byways but that assumption is wrong.

Littering is really the result of human psychology and social nature. If a community shows signs of deterioration and no one seems to care, then there will be increasing crime including littering. This phenomenon is well illustrated by the Broken Window Theory which stipulates that visible crime and vandalism will lead to more of the same. A good example is how dumps grow from a few bags of trash. Everyone assumes it is acceptable to add to the pile. You see when people commit an offence and get away with it others tend to follow suit exacerbating the problem. 

At this point I believe it is a safe assumption that we will never solve our trash problems without a shift in culture. How to drive a cultural shift and influence littering behavior is the key to solving the littering problem. We can see the aftereffect of littering in the trash that blankets our roads and hillsides. As we look around our beautiful county we all too often see plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles, polystyrene containers and cups, plastic, paper and a whole lot of other rubbish littering our environment. Complacency to this and other problems is so pervasive in our county that the task of improving our quality of life standards is truly daunting. Perhaps that is why companies are hesitant to locate here. I believe that strategic planning is the first ingredient to changing cultural attitudes towards littering. The first benefit of a strong strategic plan is that it will help to lift expectations, establish clear rules and streamline the process. We need a systemic approach that ties all available resources to a central clearinghouse. 

Folk, Magoffin County is truly a really pretty place and it is also our home. Let us all take care of it, OK? OK. The more people show they care and the more enforcement of litter laws and trash compliance is stepped up the less people will litter.

According to Kentucky law (Kentucky Revised Statutes 512.010), litter, both large and small scale, is “rubbish, waste material, offal, paper, glass, cans, bottles, trash, debris or any foreign substance of whatever kind or description and whether or not it is of value.” All violations of Kentucky’s litter laws (including roadside littering, illegal dumping on one’s own or another’s property, and littering in public waters) are misdemeanor offenses.

Clearly Kentucky needs to put some real teeth into this statute by upgrading this crime from misdemeanor to felony status. There are those who would litter anyway but they would at least think twice about doing so. 

Litter is more than an eyesore; it has great potential to harm our environment, our health and our chance to attract jobs. It is an affront to anyone that loves these hills and the beauty with which they grace our lives. It is time to end this blight upon our county so that all Magoffin County citizens can be proud to say “I live in a clean environment”.