Roadside Litter Piling Up: Give a Hoot, Don

Hoots garbage service

Garbage Service / June 22, 2023

Litter to I-195 on ramp_CR Kevin Proft ecoRI News photosA cigarette box, beer can and a hypodermic needle are just three of the littered items threatening to clog and pollute this storm drain on an entrance ramp to I-195 near India Point Park in Providence. Each is a commonly littered item, according to representatives of southern New England’s departments of transportation.

Today’s Guest Blog is by KEVIN PROFT, ecoRI News staff. It was first posted in ecoRI News on . Readers will recall another recent blog on litter— When did the Planet become an Ashtray? Mr. Proft provides a more in depth look at the costs of littering.

Someone ends up picking up those bottles filled with urine and tons of other needless street trash, and it costs taxpayers plenty.

Today’s environmental advocates are working toward zero waste, more renewable energy, complete streets, organic fruits and vegetables, and local food systems. Juxtaposed against these big-picture efforts aimed at systemic change, is an ongoing, often-forgotten, 20th-century effort that simply seeks — and has largely failed to secure — minor behavioral changes.

“The mess people throw out the windows of their cars is as epidemic as it ever has been. You wouldn’t believe how much junk is hidden off the side of the highway. People are throwing a ton of garbage out their windows all the time.”

Access Road to India Pt Park CR Kevin ProftecoRI News photos)So said Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT), who recently spoke to ecoRI News about the pervasiveness of roadside litter.

He said roadside litter has three primary sources: casual litterers; people who dump larger quantities of garbage and bulky items; and truck drivers who fail to secure their loads.

“We find everything, ” Nursick said. Styrofoam coffee cups, cigarette butts, paper and plastic bags, soda and beer cans, plastic water bottles, hypodermic needles and other drug paraphernalia were described as everyday finds by Nursick and DOT representatives from Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

“We find horrible biological stuff you don’t even want to consider, ” Nursick said. “People go to the bathroom in bottles and then throw them out the window. So it’s not gatorade (our crews) are cleaning up, its human urine.”

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