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Family takes [litter] matters into their own hands

Updated: Jan. 20, 2021 at 10:45 PM EST
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Kim Schwab found herself growing increasingly frustrated by the amount of litter she saw on the sides of the roads as she drove her daughter Violet to school.

“It’s something that I think is just getting worse and worse and as I travel throughout the state it’s definitely gotten worse...a lot worse,” she said. “It’s at it’s peak I’ve ever seen it.”

Weeks later, she and Violet have spent their spare time walking the roads near their Ogden neighborhood and picking it up piece by piece.

The City of Wilmington joins many municipalities across North Carolina looking into further options for litter clean-up.

In December, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo sent a letter to the Wilmington MPO (Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) saying citizen complaints are on the rise about litter. He requested more funding be allocated for roadway clean-up, but at this point it’s unclear whether any additional funding will be available.

The state did away with the prisoner litter clean-up program a few years ago and many 2020 clean-up events were cancelled because of the pandemic.

People have noticed.

“I feel like in the past year or two years I’ve started to see it progressively getting worse inland and on the roadsides,” Schwab said. “I just don’t think that we have enough programs or maybe funding in place to help us manage this.”

According to a response letter from the Department of Transportation to the MPO, last year contractors performed three litter sweeps in New Hanover County that resulted in nearly 50-thousand pounds of trash being collected. The state hopes to do additional sweeps this year.

The Schwabs find all sorts of stuff walking the streets near their neighborhood.

“Literally, picked up what seems to be fast food bags that people are just tossing out of their car. It’s mind boggling to me that people in this day and age would do that,” Schwab said.

Kim Schwab is hoping to connect with other concerned citizens to further research and discuss what can be done, but until then, she and Violet will do their part picking up trash when and where they can.

“Maybe we can be of an immediate help and just clean up our general area,” she said.

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