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Monday, November 20th, 21023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 Big news about all the trash in the Bayou State. Government is going to study the problem. LSU is going to take the lead according to an announcement, made last week, to “help find ways to rid the state of all that trash.” That’s just what we need, another study. Right?

I’m certainly not diminishing any need to clean up our trashy state. The nonprofit Keep Louisiana Beautiful organization says that there are nearly 144,000,000 pieces of litter on Louisiana roadways, and for every mile a Louisianan drives on the interstate they pass an average of 10,178 pieces of trash.

Am I a bit skeptical about any significant results? That would be an understatement. State government has been talking about cleaning up the trash around the state for decades. With little to show for it.  And what’s all this about forming an LSU-based initiative?  Just drive around the LSU campus. You will find loads of trash all over the campus.

A few years back, a Chinese group was considering investing in an industrial site located in Northeast Louisiana along I-20. The group flew to Shreveport, and state officials drove them through Monroe to the site in Richland Parish. After looking over the site, the group decided against building on that location. I asked one of the state representatives why the Chinese Group turn the site down. I was told they were two reasons. First of all, Louisiana did not have an adequately trained workforce. The second reason was roadway conditions. “You have such a trashy state,” our state representatives were told.

This past Saturday was election day and campaign workers were on the neutral grounds, waving campaign flags. As I went to vote, a number of campaign workers had plastic and paper drinking containers in their hands. When I came back an hour later, the containers were tossed all over the middle ground, and into the street itself.  So candidates were offering themselves to represent the public, and their supporters were dumping trash all over the streets.

I went to a grandson’s soccer game last week, and a number of volunteer workers were walking  over the field picking up large bags of trash. I complemented them for their devotion and diligence. One week later, when I went back for another soccer game, the field had been littered with more trash than the week before.

So what do we do? It’s obvious that educating the public and getting volunteers to pick up the trash just is not working.  In a state with Louisiana’s mindset of lack of liter concern, there’s only one way to keep all this litter from being dumped on the roadways. Prosecute, prosecute, prosecute. The state needs to profile those who dump trash, and bring criminal charges against them. First offense $500 fine. Second defense, 30 days in jail. No exceptions and no probation. Unless the Bayou State shows it means business, the trash will continue to pile up.

So how do you do it? Profile 15 or 20 heavily littered roadways in the state. They’re easy to find. Post cameras along those sites that can be monitored around the clock. When a driver is filmed dumping his or her trash on the side of the road, make a high-profile arrest.  Call a press conference. I would initially even go one step further, and assign several unmarked state police vehicles to undertake surveillance.

Look, if there’s a will, there’s a way. If these suggestions sound too tough to you, then maybe you are part of the problem. I’m sick and tired of living in a state filled with trash that has become the eyesore of America. We need to show we mean business. No more studies. No more education programs. Let’s start cleaning up our state by profiling those we are dumping trash, and sticking them with a large fine, or getting them off the road altogether. I’ve had enough. How about you?

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also listen to his regular podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.

2 Responses
  1. Tim Woods

    Many times I see litter blow out of the beds of pickup trucks. Folks think if they toss their empty water bottle, styrofoam cup, lunch bag, etc. they have fulfilled their responsibility of throwing away their trash. I propose we borrow that “Fines Double” that DOTD uses to slow traffic down in construction zones. The signs will get your attention and make you think about using the bed of your truck as a trash can.

  2. Ginger

    It’s peoples mentality, they don’t care about their surroundings unfortunately.
    And if the people don’t see the courts taking criminals off the street, they dang sure not concerned about trash sadly.

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