We Need Tennessee CLEAN
Opinion article by Mark Benko.
Retired from metal fabrication contracting but a lifelong outdoorsman, Mark was a charter member of many East Tennessee outdoors groups and has been recognized with several conservation awards throughout his life.
“There ain’t no lower class than Tennessee trash.” Some of us older folks might remember that song from a long-ago Tennessee anti-litter TV spot. Well, not a lot has changed since then. Litter is still prevalent everywhere, polluting our waters and injuring fish and wildlife.
If you don’t think so, simply walk or drive by the banks of some of our more pristine rivers in East Tennessee, like the Watauga or South Holston. Water levels fluctuate in these rivers and rising water simply washes more trash (mostly plastic) to be deposited on the banks when the water recedes.
So, let’s try again to do something about litter. A new initiative is afoot called Tennessee CLEAN. It is starting a conversation among stakeholders (that’s us) to bring new ideas and proven solutions to the litter problem. It would set up a commission with representation from community leaders, agriculture, retail, manufacturing, outdoorsman, and more so that a meaningful solution can be created that works for everyone. The idea will be to develop and implement, over several years, a program that comprehensively addresses litter prevention and reduction across the state.
This is not going to be an easy task and I respect the folks who will take on this challenge. Changing people’s attitudes about litter, recycling, and the cost associated with it are hard enough.
Imagine talking to some guy (read into this that it is one of my acquaintances) about all the trash that he throws in the bed of his pickup blowing out everywhere only to be told that he only puts it in the bed when he runs out of room in the cab.
In another case, an outdoors club that I belong to looked into adopting a section of county road that dead ended into a Forest Service recreation area. The thought was that the folks going to and from the recreation area were throwing out all the trash. But we discovered that the trash was not being thrown out by the ones using the picnic area, rather it was the residents that lived along the road. Go figure.
Let’s try again. The Tennessee CLEAN initiative will be taking a new look at everything to attempt to solve our state’s litter problem. It does not start out with some preconceived tactical solutions. Rather it will bring minds together to get fresh ideas.
I would like all outdoors folks to get on board. Visit tennesseeCLEANact.org and get involved.