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  HOME »  AWARDS »  North Carolina Mean about Clean
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Awards: North Carolina Mean about Clean
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The Federal Highway Administration's
2003 Environmental Excellence Awards
North Carolina Mean about Clean

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image Due to unprecedented growth, North Carolina is finding itself facing many of the problems that come with higher population density, rapid development, and increasing numbers of vehicles traveling it's roads. One of these problems is litter.

Across the county, controlling and cleaning up litter is costing transportation departments millions of dollars. In 2001 the North Carolina Department of Transportation spent close to $10 million of maintenance funds to clean up over 12 million pounds of litter.

In hopes of helping to reduce littering at its source, the Roadside Environmental Unit's Office of Beautification Programs sponsors a multi-faceted anti-litter program. The "NC Mean About Clean" effort attempts to raise awareness about the cost of littering, the legal repercussions of littering, and the environmental impact of litter.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image One of the goals of this program is for the NCDOT to involve other governmental agencies, enforcement agencies, and citizens groups in their efforts. The NCDOT cannot solve this problem alone - they need partners to help spread their message. Three of their newest efforts were developed with this goal in mind.

The Recycle Guys Anti-Litter Commercial, the Anti-Litter Educational Radio Campaign, and the "Yes! Yes! We Can Stop Littering" Essay Program are each unique in their own way, and all are partnership efforts. The Recycle Guys Anti-Litter Commercial incorporates an anti-litter message into a current recycling campaign, "Recycle Guys". The Recycle Guys are cartoon characters that address various components of the state's recycling goals. Also available are trading cards with the different characters on them. These trading cards are provided to schools and civic groups upon request. The Anti-Litter Educational Radio Campaign features messages about the littering laws, how to report litterbugs, and how a group or organization can "Adopt-A-Highway" and periodically collect any litter that is on their segment of road. These radio spots are not only educating citizens, they are offering them opportunities to be involved. Finally, the "Yes! Yes! We Can Stop Littering" project was developed by a civic group and then brought to the NCDOT as a proposed joint effort.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image Each effort is exceptional. The Recycle Guys campaign offered an opportunity to piggyback onto a program that is already familiar to school children and benefit on this awareness to remind the viewer not to litter. A powerful reason behind targeting these children is that behaviors are learned at an early age. This campaign encourages them to learn positive behaviors as well as effect the behavior of adults.

The radio campaign recognizes that many of the citizens of our state are very frustrated with the litter problem and want to find ways to become involved in: reporting violators, litter prevention, and clean up. The radio spots direct them to the proper agencies to become involved, as well as offer them an opportunity to report litterbugs.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image The "Yes! Yes! We Can Stop Littering" effort enables civic club members to go into schools and teach an anti-litter lesson and hand out anti-litter promotional items from the NCDOT. The students are then asked to write an essay on litter. The essays are judged and each school has a winner. This effort is even incorporated into the schools’ curriculum through their end of year testing.

It is important to note that all of these efforts require partnerships. The Recycle Guys is a joint effort between the NCDOT Office of Beautification Programs and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resource's Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance Program. For the Anti-Litter Educational Radio Campaign, the NC State Highway Patrol allows citizens to use *HP to report litterbugs and the Highway Patrol operators file the report using NCDOT’s web page. This allows cell phone users easy access to report litter violators around the clock. The Colonel of the Highway Patrol and the Colonel of the Division of Motor Vehicles Enforcement Section co-sign 2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image letters that are sent to offenders. Having this information taken and sent by law enforcement agencies lends credibility to the program and highlights the legal implications of littering. More than 5,000 letters were sent in 2001 to litter offenders. The Yes! Yes! You Can Stop Littering Campaign was developed and is staffed by members of the Rotary Club of Union County, who then partner with the local schools and teachers. These local contacts are very valuable for gaining entry into the classrooms and for offering opportunities to distribute NCDOT informational/promotional materials directly to students.

Federal Highway Administration enhancement funds provide 80% of the funding for the Recycle Guys Anti-Litter Commercial and the Anti-Litter Educational Radio Campaign. NCDOT has requested federal enhancement money to expand the "Yes! Yes! You Can Stop Littering" effort to other counties across North Carolina. As NCDOT is able to secure funding, the state Rotary Club will expand its sponsoring effort. They have also agreed that if there is not a Rotary Club presence in an area that is interested in this program, NCDOT would be allowed to solicit sponsorship from other groups or organizations.

2003 Environmental Excellence Awards Image These are all new efforts with limited reach. As they expand, NCDOT hopes to be able to see a reduction in the amount of litter that needs to be collected. Last spring the department commissioned a survey in order to have a baseline against which they can measure future litter reductions and the effectiveness of NCDOT’s anti-litter program.

NCDOT is already receiving positive reactions from the public on the new anti-litter awareness efforts. They have received numerous phone calls from citizens letting them know the individual had seen or heard the ads, and appreciated that NCDOT was trying to raise awareness about the negative effects of littering. NCDOT has also received many statements of thanks from citizens who are happy to have the ability to report litterbugs. Finally, as NCDOT raises awareness of the cost to the taxpayer for litter cleanup, we hope to discourage littering and reduce costs associated with litter removal/cleanup while protecting the environment.




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