TRENTON, NJ - When the New Jersey Clean Communities Council (NJCCC) learned the findings of a comprehensive report showed litter along streets and highways has been reduced by 53 percent over the past 13 years, the obvious question was: What about the other 47 percent?
That is why the NJCCC has launched a statewide media campaign in 2019 to inform residents about the findings of the report, as well as to encourage them to participate in litter clean-up programs in the places where they live and work.
“We were certainly pleased to learn that all the anti-litter efforts in the state have made an impact over the past 13 years,” said NJCCC Executive Director Sandy Huber. “But our job is not about removing 53 percent of the litter. It is about removing 100 percent, which is why we are launching this campaign.”
The 53 percent reduction was broadly seen throughout New Jersey: in all regions, all locales, 18 of our 21 counties and 93 percent of the sites surveyed.
Throughout 2019, residents will be encouraged to visit the Other47.com, which provides an easy link for volunteers to sign up for the annual International Coastal Cleanup. Or, people can use the website to connect to NJCCC and learn ways in which they can create their own clean-up programs, or join others that are already underway.
The visual litter study, conducted by Environmental Resources Planning, LLC. of Gaithersburg, MD (ERP), shows that municipalities and counties across the state have effective litter abatement programs in place. The study results were based off a litter survey conducted in 2004, and the follow-up study conducted this year of 94 roadways statewide.
ERP researchers attribute the reduction of litter to state Clean Communities programs that have been strengthened since 2004 when the NJ Clean Communities Council assumed responsibility for the state program.
With a solid funding base provided by the state Clean Communities Act, NJCCC has expanded its network of Clean Communities coordinators, established a coordinator training program through the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education, set up an online statistical report system designed to track the progress of local programs and created a myriad of outreach programs and events developed especially for Clean Communities coordinators and their volunteer and student populations.
NJCCC has also partnered with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to administer the Adopt-a-Beach and Adopt-a-Highway programs, encouraging the volunteer cleanup of public lands.
The council has conducted two major anti-litter campaigns, an ongoing “Slam Dunk the Junk” campaign developed to remind people to put trash in litter or recycling bins, and not on the ground, and the “NJ Beach Bird” campaign which reminds folks not to toss plastic bottles on the street or in the water.
“We are so grateful to the many volunteers and coordinators over the years who have helped make such a drastic impact on the amount of litter in the state,” Huber said. “But our job is not done yet! Help us by joining our Other 47 campaign.”
Sign up at Other47.com. Results of the visual litter survey are available at NJClean.org