Would it be a good idea to …
… hold a litter pickup every spring in each of Luzerne County’s 76 municipalities?
Bottles, plastic bags, fast-food containers and other carelessly discarded items dot the landscape, creating unsightly and depressing displays along many roadsides and stream banks. Ditto at plenty of city playgrounds, rural parks and other public spaces. Certain communities – chiefly Hazleton, where volunteers turn out by the hundreds every year to help bag trash during a chamber of commerce-led, anti-litter campaign – do a respectable job of tidying up. Other communities are hit or miss, which is to say, some years they hit the problem head-on, while other years are messy — until weeds and other leafy growth mask the situation.
A statewide effort that began 10 years ago, and which was vigorously promoted in April 2004 by The Times Leader, encourages area volunteers to aggressively go after eyesores in their communities, and even offers incentives to make it easier. Participating groups that register for this year’s Great American Cleanup of PA, which began March 1 and continues through May 31, can get free supplies: trash bags, safety vests and gloves. Even better, cleanups conducted from April 12 to May 5 are eligible for free disposal in participating landfills.
Why not have a coordinator in every city, borough and township encourage local participation throughout Luzerne County, making trash-plucking events a seasonal ritual on par with washing road salt from your vehicle and stowing away the snow shovels?
We didn’t bounce this idea off the county’s solid waste management team, nor run it past the area’s vast number of borough council members and township supervisors. We want to know what you think.
So far, fewer than a dozen groups have scheduled Luzerne County-based beautification events on the Great American Cleanup of PA’s website, www.gacofpa.org. The listing includes cleanups in Bear Creek Township, Dennison Township, Duryea and perennial participant Newport Township. Some crews will target illegal dump sites. One group aims to spruce up Moon Lake Park on April 26.
Wilkes-Barre’s spring cleanup also has been set for April 26, falling the weekend after Earth Day, with a rain date of April 27.
Certainly, there are enough area Scout, school, religious and civic groups – or informal bands of neighbors – to multiply the local sites slated for litter pickups. Individuals can lend support, too, simply by removing debris from their properties.
Ridding trash from public places on a regular basis is a nuisance, but a necessary task.
It goes beyond mere aesthetics. It involves public health and safety. Abandoned tires, for instance, can fill with water, becoming breeding grounds for potentially disease-carrying mosquitoes. At the neighborhood park, broken glass can rip through skin and ruin a play day.
Moreover, how Luzerne County looks reflects to visitors how much, or how little, its residents care.
Couldn’t we do more each spring to show some community pride?
Give us your feedback by sending a letter to the editor or by posting comments to this editorial at timesleader.com or facebook.com/timesleader.
Likewise, share your ideas for improving the community and making area residents’ lives better. Maybe we’ll spotlight your suggestion in a future editorial and ask readers, “Would it be a good idea to …”