I love a clean community

Everyone wants to live in a space that is beautiful, healthy, and clean, but it takes participation from everyone sharing that space to make it happen. Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful (KTMB) is celebrating 30 years of increasing the quality of life of local residents through beautification, advocacy, cleanups, and education! Started in 1989 by a passionate group of community volunteers, KTMB’s history and impact is quite impressive. In the past ten years alone, KTMB has coordinated 1,169 cleanup events, removed 1,423 tons of trash and 5,711 tires, recycled 101,679 Christmas trees, planted over 7,961 trees and 74,451 flowers, and has educated over 28,000 youth and adults!

It’s no news that waste can cause serious problems in the world around us. Litter and illegal dumping cost our community thousands of dollars. Recycling a tire by returning it to the dealer, for instance, can cost as little as $2. However, cleaning it up from an illegal dump-site can cost $40, and this is a cost disparity that exists for all dumped materials, costing tax-payer dollars for staff time and equipment to clean up litter and garbage from our parks, open space and public rights-of-way. The indirect costs of litter are also considerable. For example, the presence of litter in a community decreases property values.

Litter also has significant environmental consequences. Natural processes like decomposition and biodegradation need water, so in our desert climate, what’s dumped, stays dumped. When dumped in the desert even sod, trees, all the “natural” green waste one might think is going to break down becomes dry kindling for wildfire season. Wind, weather, traffic, and animals move litter into gutters, lawns and landscaped areas, alleyways, and parking structures. Litter near storm drains are also likely to wash into local waterways, with potential for serious environmental contamination, especially when the litter is plastic or hazardous waste material.

Studies have shown that about 85 percent of littering is the result of individual attitudes. Actually, individuals are substantially more likely to litter in littered environments than in clean ones. Changing individual behavior is key to preventing litter, therefore education about beautification and the impacts of litter is just as important. By changing everyday habits into ones that help to reduce waste, we are working towards beautifying our community! Here are some ways to start: volunteer with KTMB during a clean up event; pick up trash; when you see illegal dumping in action, do not approach the individuals, call 785-WCSO; to report an existing illegal dump-site to be cleaned up, call 329-DUMP; reference KTMB’s Recycling Guide to learn where you can dispose of unwanted things properly; and make choices to reduce your waste. Together, we can keep the Truckee Meadows beautiful.  More information at ktmb.org.