No one likes to see roadside litter in their neighborhood. Not only is it an eyesore, but statistically, it attracts more litter — people are more like to litter in places where they see litter already exists. Unfortunately, an increase in the amount of litter was an unexpected side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic. Georgetown County has traditionally relied on litter crews from the detention center to help keep litter at bay, but those crews were sidelined by the pandemic.
“It didn’t take long for roadside litter to start piling up and complaints to start rolling in,” said Maureen Mulligan, the Georgetown County Environmental Services Division’s staff Environmentalist.
Realizing something had to be done, the Division applied for and was awarded a $15,000 Accommodations Tax grant to launch a countywide roadside cleanup crew. The plan was to use the funds to hire a part-time litter crew supervisor, who would manage individuals sentenced to community service through the local Drug Court program. When the county couldn’t find someone to fill the position, Environmental Services staff moved to plan B. They put out a call to communities across the county, utilizing social media and talking to various civic groups, and were delighted when residents responded.
Throughout the summer, the Environmental Services Division — assisted by Palmetto Pride and the Georgetown County Sheriff’s Office — has been helping residents collect literal tons of trash from roadsides and ditches in their communities. The county provides volunteers with safety vests, gloves, litter grabbing tools and other supplies, then picks up and disposes of all litter collected.
Quite a few community organizations and neighborhood leaders — including several County Council Members, football teams, ROTCs and businesses — have taken on the challenge. Over the course of five months, residents have collected a total of 6 tons of litter from county roadways!
Mulligan said it has been wonderful to see people taking pride in their communities this way. She encourages anyone interested in hosting a cleanup in their community to give her a call at (843) 545-3452 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Let’s keep up the good work! We are here to help,” she said.