RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Trash on the side of North Carolina highways is a big problem — a $22 million problem to be exact.
To combat the problem, the state Department of Transportation is asking for volunteers for its 2023 Fall Litter Sweep, which runs from Sept. 16-30.
Some items along the side of highways, like water bottles are small; others, like mattresses, are tough to miss. And, it all adds up.
“I’m frustrated at how that got there, that people are littering,” Anna Grey Lassiter said.
She said it’s not just bad for the environment or an eyesore. Sometimes, it’s downright dangerous.
“I just called the Department of Transportation,” she said. “I think it was like a rolled-up mattress at one point, and it was raining that day, so I’m not sure how long it had been there, but it was a hazard.”
Just how much trash is out there?
According to NCDOT, more than 11.5 million pounds of trash was collected statewide last year, an effort that cost taxpayers more than $22 million.
“[It] makes me more conscious of it, you know what I mean,” Korey Jackson said. “Probably just make it a little bit easier just throwing stuff away. We can save a little bit of money, you know.”
NCDOT’s website states that the millions spent on litter management could be used to fix potholes, build bridges and improve transportation.
Those interested in becoming involved with the fall little sweep can click here. NCDOT also does a litter sweep in the spring.
People can also report those who litter on the road through the Swat-A-Litterbug program. Drivers won’t get a fine, but they will receive a letter in the mail about littering.