The question often gets asked, if you don’t like trash in your home why would you trash someone else’s back yard — in this case the public’s backyard.
“Litter causes not only financial problems for the city and environmental problems and we’re a big tourist city, and this is not a good first impression we make for tourists,” said Phyllis Wingard, Outreach Coordinator with Keep Mobile Beautiful.
The problem on the ground looks like garbage strewn along streets, and in the watershed. It’s a problem Mayor Stimpson has campaigned to clean up but it’s hard to measure improvement.
“We amended the litter ordinance, writing tickets bad actors, and helping bad actors become good neighbors,” said Laura Bryne, Mobile Mayor’s Office.
Stimpson has directed special crews to catch commercial polluters. Since then, city crews often document the problem with before and after pictures, to make sure businesses clean up.
“And their specific goal is to look at these commercial sites for source point of litter,” said David Daughenbaugh, Mobile Property Maintenance Deputy Director.
But that doesn’t stop the larger problem of people accustomed to a culture of littering.
“People just you know. I’m finished with this wrapper I’ll toss it out the window,” said Wingard.
Wingard with non-profit Keep Mobile Beautiful says for years adults have set a bad example, that’s why she focuses on changing mindsets with youths. There is a copy of our Keep Mobile Beautiful pledge that our children can sign that they’re pledging to take care of the world. Part of her work is to visit classes around Mobile and educate kids about litter.
“They go home and teach their parents we know that, we see that with recycling all the time. We’ll have people come in and say my kid learned about it and now I have to do it,” said Wingard.
Wingard also says it’s rare people litter in front of police to give them a ticket, that’s why she says — calling 311 on litterbugs can ultimately make a bigger difference.
“The owner of that vehicle gets a letter from the Police Department that says warning you have been reported littering by a citizen, here are the laws and here is what would happen if we caught you. Everybody behaves better if they think someone is watching them,” said Wingard.