COLORADO SPRINGS — It is Earth day and litter is always one of the important topics discussed, only it is more than a one-day issue. "We did 1,712 clean-ups last year,” said Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers.
The non-profit Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful accumulated more than 1,900 cubic yards of trash and debris. Then you have crews working with the Colorado Department of Transportation out numerous times a month cleaning up tons of trash scattered along roadways like I-25.
Group service is important to the issue. Tom Howes lives near Palmer Park. When park budgets were being trimmed due to the nationwide economic lull a dozen years back, he recognized the need for volunteers at Palmer Park. “We figured we should step up and not just take advantage of the park, but take care of it as well.”
Since then there are at least a dozen group volunteer clean-up days a year by volunteers with Guardians of Palmer Park. "You know we found a piano, we found a jet ski, sometimes it's cigarettes and a lot of bottles, a lot of fast-food containers, but it just piles up." Bags are gathered and often fill dumpsters each month.
Individuals addressing the litter issue also make a difference. Monthly events have become a daily habit for Howes. "Whenever I hike I carry along a pick-up stick and a little trash bag." Howes is out in Palmer Park nearly every day and every day he finds litter. "Absolutely there's always something."
Howes sees plenty of trash carelessly and blatantly tossed, but he has learned a lot of litter comes from everyday people unaware they are contributing to the issue.
"Somebody opens their door and stuff blows out or somebody reaches into their pocket for a kleenex and something will fall,’ said Howes, “So it's not all malicious, but it all needs to be picked up.” The issue could be decreased if more people were more cautious about making sure waste makes it to the trash.