Members from around the region and around the state are teaming up for the Don’t Mess with Texas Trash-Off to beautify their community and roads Saturday, April 6.
The Trash-Off is the state’s largest one-day litter cleanup event, with multiple local events happening throughout state.
In the El Paso District, more than 1,000 volunteers have registered to cleanup locations in Brewster, Culberson, El Paso, Jeff Davis and Presidio counties.
“The Trash-Off is a good time to remind everyone not to litter,” said El Paso District Engineer Bob Bielek. “Every year more than 400 million pieces of litter accumulate on Texas highways. Most of the trash is food/organic material, cigarette butts, and small pieces of paper such as receipts and gum wrappers.”
During the 2018 Trash-Off, 1, 875, 868 pounds of litter were collected by 2, 112 groups with 31, 317 volunteers statewide on 3,409 miles of road.
“We participate because we realize there is a problem with pollution not just in Texas, but across the world,” said El Dorado High School Art Teacher Candie Printz. “Rather than just talk about how concerned this makes us, we’d like to take action and be a part of the solution. Exposing our community members and young people to the problem, first-hand, along with the solution, is key to solving this dilemma. This can help to shift the perception of our culture for the better.”
Ahead of Saturday’s cleanup, Bielek advises drivers to pay extra attention while on the roads.
“Expect to see many groups of people in orange vests carrying trash bags. Drivers should keep an eye out for these volunteers on the side of various roads and slow down if they see a group picking up litter,” Bielek said.
The Trash-Off is part of TxDOT’s litter prevention program. Volunteers include the members of more than 3,000 Adopt-a-Highway (AAH) groups and more than 300 Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) communities. AAH groups remove litter from Texas highways, while KTB volunteers focus on cleaning neighborhoods, city streets and parks.
The Trash-Off began in 1986 as a call to action to refrain from littering on one designated day. In 1987, the event was expanded to include litter pickup by encouraging all Texas Adopt-a-Highway (AAH) groups to collect roadside litter on the day of the Trash-Off. Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) joined the effort in 1993 to include cleanup activities in Texas communities.
People who litter in Texas can be fined $500 every time they litter and if the litter weighs more than five pounds, the fine increases up to $2,000.