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As Brunswick County sees population growth, more people means more trash, volunteers work to help clean up

Clean Brunswick is volunteer organization with a mission to keep North Carolina litter free
Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 1:47 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Brunswick County is one of the fastest growing regions in the entire country, and some people who live there say it’s showing — in all the wrong ways.

Many people who make up an Army of Volunteers say this isn’t how they imagined retirement.

Carol Miller retired to southeastern North Carolina from Wisconsin. She noticed right off the bat.

“The litter problem in North Carolina is ridiculous,” Miller said. “They really need to educate the community. People think nothing of throwing it out of the window.”

Clean Brunswick is a volunteer organization with a mission to keep North Carolina litter free.

As more and more people move to different neighborhoods, Clean Brunswick is seeing individual neighborhood groups band together — groups like the Compass Pointe Pickers and Talking Trash — all are part of the ongoing effort to clean up local highways.

Miller and about two dozen volunteers make up The Compass Pointe Pickers. Now, they’re worried the problem is only going to get worse. This summer, the town of Leland is scaling back its recycling pickup.

“There are so many plastic bottles and cans on the side of the road,” said Miller. “It’s an ongoing effort. I even had to pick up official DOT trash bags, all the way in Shallotte.”

This month, the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office announced its Lock Up Litter Campaign, teaming up with community members and groups to get litter off the roadways in the unincorporated areas of the county.

During its most recent clean up drive, members of Clean Brunswick gave the sheriff’s office a round of applause when it was mentioned their efforts were making a difference, even with the added security of volunteer deputies on site to help raise awareness and public safety.

“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Bob Sanders. “I think what’s happening, possibly due to COVID that the tax revenue is down, people aren’t driving as much; of course, they have budgets and frankly mowing and trash pickup is at the bottom of the priority list.”

The NCDOT confirms crews, contractors and volunteers have collected almost 1.2 million pounds of trash along state roads in just the first two months of 2021. It is urging local people to volunteer their time and effort to pick up the trash.

“This is our stretch of Adopt-a-Highway,” said Jim Rabold. He’s assembled a crew, based in the Bluffs, to help maintain Mount Misery Road. “This is only a short-term solution. We need to change the paradigm in our community.”

For more information on how you can get involved, click here.

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