EDITORIAL: Pennsylvania has a litter problem; resolving it is up to us

Observer Reporter -I’m sure you could find plenty of things to do with $65 million.

I’m sure we all as a society could find plenty of things to do with $65 million, particularly as the coronavirus and its accompanying economic dislocation eats away at state and local budgets.

And $65 million is what the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) spent from 2014 to 2018 removing litter and other debris from highway rights-of-way across the commonwealth.

Maybe that tear Iron Eyes Cody shed in the anti-littering ad that was a TV mainstay in the 1970s wasn’t solely because the environment was being defiled by hordes of heedless slobs – maybe he also realized the manpower and money it takes to clean it all up.

The dollars-and-cents consequences of litter in Pennsylvania were outlined in a report released shortly before the coronavirus hijacked every part of our lives. The study was done in a partnership between the state’s departments of transportation and environmental protection and the advocacy group Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. They hope to use the information, presumably when we are not preoccupied with pandemic concerns, as the groundwork for a plan to reduce and eliminate litter across the commonwealth.

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