Don’t Trash Arizona is a joint effort between the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to address the negative impacts of freeway litter in our region. The program is funded through Proposition 400, which was approved by voters in 2004. That funding encompasses litter pickup, sweeping, and landscape maintenance, as well as litter education and prevention. With Don’t Trash Arizona, our job is to change attitudes, awareness, and most importantly, behavior, when it comes to roadway littering. Consider this:
- It costs taxpayers more than $3 million every year to clean up litter along Valley roadways. There is an additional cost to the economy when businesses and tourists fail to return to our state due to a poor impression.
- ADOT crews remove 500 bags of trash every weekday just from Maricopa County freeways alone. This equals about 1.6 MILLION pounds of trash every year.
- Litter is not only ugly, it is unsanitary and can cause environmental and health problems. Cigarette butts, for example, along with plastics and other types of litter, contain toxic chemicals that can end up in storm drains and contaminate our water systems.
- Another safety impact comes from trash and debris that fall from vehicles due to unsecured loads. While 60 percent of littering is caused when motorists make the deliberate decision to toss an item from their vehicles, the other 40 percent is caused from trash or dangerous debris that blows or falls from vehicles. Roadway debris not only costs us in scores of innocent lives and thousands of serious traffic accidents, it also costs us many hours of wasted time and lost productivity due to traffic delays.
Since its inception in 2006, Don’t Trash Arizona has sought to change the behavior of litterers, and the program is making a difference. A 2010 survey found that more than half of all Arizona residents surveyed have heard the slogan. The same survey found that almost three-fourths of Maricopa county residents (74%) reported they had not littered at all during the past year, which, for the first time, represents an increase from previous years (69% in 2009). Not surprisingly, the percentage of residents who admitted to littering declined (to 23%), the lowest recorded in the history of the annual study. Tracking reports further indicate that outreach efforts over the past four years have resulted in more than 30 million audience impressions.
We are continuing to ramp up our efforts to reduce freeway littering. For example, we recently implemented a program to address roadway debris called Safe Loads=Safe Roads. As part of this program, motorists are urged to take the Don’t Trash Arizona Pledge. The pledge asks each individual to personally commit to simple solutions, such as disposing of trash properly, using a portable ashtray (cigarette butts are a major component of roadway litter) and securing all vehicle loads properly by using tarps and tie-downs.
Other efforts made by Don’t Trash Arizona include the creation of Litter Patrol Arcade, an interactive video game to teach young people about the negative consequences of litter. With the game, kids can pass out tickets to litterers and battle it out with the litter monster. Concerned motorists who witness littering incidents can report violators online or via a hotline.
Your visit to this website is the first step you can take to reduce litter on Valley freeways. We encourage you to take the pledge, play the game, sign up for the newsletter and most importantly, Don’t Trash Arizona!