In January 2022, Governor John Bel Edwards created by executive order the Task Force on Statewide Litter Abatement and Beautification, administered by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and Keep Louisiana Beautiful (KLB). The group of 26 Task Force members—representatives from various state and local government agencies, businesses, non-profits, private groups, and communities—dedicated over 400 hours to developing recommendations for tackling litter in Louisiana. On Monday, April 17, in conjunction with the launch of Love the Boot Week—a statewide litter removal and beautification effort—the Task Force reconvened to receive updates from Governor John Bel Edwards, Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser, and Keep Louisiana Beautiful.
Governor John Bel Edwards opened the meeting with remarks expressing his gratitude to the Task Force for making the issue of litter a priority. He highlighted the clean up of the borrow pit and wetland at Burden Museum and Gardens in Baton Rouge, where 81 tons of litter had accumulated over the course of thirty years. Osprey Initiative was contracted by The LSU AgCenter Botanic Gardens at Burden and the Louisiana Stormwater Coalition to remove the litter with the help of volunteers. The site will be used as an education and demonstration site for stormwater management.
Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser then thanked the Louisiana legislature for appropriating $4 million for litter abatement and beautification. With this funding, the Office of the Lieutenant Governor and KLB distributed $1.5 million dollars in grants to fund trash receptacles, city entry point rehabilitation, and litter enforcement. The Lieutenant Governor also shared the success of the litter awareness and prevention campaign, Let Louisiana Shine, which has achieved over 143 million impressions.
Next, Susan Russell, Executive Director, thanked Louisiana’s top leaders for supporting KLB’s mission and she covered the organization’s new programs designed to address the recommendations made by the Task Force. New initiatives include:
Get Down and Clean Up: In partnership with the State Library of Louisiana, KLB created this new program to empower and encourage individuals, families, and small groups to take responsibility for keeping their neighborhoods clean. At 71 participating libraries, the public can check out and return litter grabbers, safety vests, and trash bags.
Clean Biz Partnership: KLB and Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Executives (LACCE) developed this program to engage businesses in litter prevention best practices. Participating Louisiana chambers will recruit members to clean their dumpster areas and parking bays, install trash receptacles, and keep their landscaping and grass well-maintained.
Outdoor Event Best Practice Guide for Waste Management and Litter Prevention: In collaboration with French Quarter Festivals, Inc., KLB is creating a best practice guide for outdoor event producers, conveying various levels of strategies for waste management and litter prevention.
- Revamping KLB Education Materials: KLB’s lesson plans and activity sheets for students in grades K-5 on litter, pollution, recycling, watersheds, waste management, marine debris, and environmental stewardship are being updated. Incorporated into these lessons will be Rocksey the Raccoon and friends — animal characters designed to help voice litter’s harmful effects on wildlife and their habitats.
Books to Educate Youth About Litter: All 361 public libraries and bookmobiles in Louisiana received two hardback copies of “Harry the Snakebird” by Wendy Carbo. One copy can be checked out by patrons and the second can be used by the librarian for story time and children’s programs. The book, based on a true story, tells the tale of two children who freed an Anhinga (aka a snakebird) who was starving due to a littered band binding its beak. Young readers will learn the importance of protecting fish, wildlife, and their habitats from litter.
Dr. Cecile Carson of CD Carson Consulting then dove into the preliminary results of the 2023 Litter Study, which will be published by KLB this summer. She shared highlights such as:
- There are approximately 143.8 million pieces of litter on Louisiana roadways.
- The top three aggregate litter items are cigarette butts (21%), plastic beverage containers (13.8%), followed by plastic fast food items (7.2%).
- The leading litter sources are motorists (53.2%), unsecured loads (17%), and garbage trucks (9.3%).
“This litter study offers us a starting point for cleaning up Louisiana. We now have the data necessary to move forward and implement lasting changes to keep our state clean and beautiful,” said Lieutenant Governor Nungesser.
Concluding the event was a presentation by Scott McCallister, Vice President of the West Region for Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc., based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. McCallister shared that with the support of The Coca-Cola Company, Osprey Initiative would be implementing closed-loop recycling at 14 Love the Boot Week events. He also shared a video on The Coca-Cola Company’s sustainability investments aligned with the corporation’s World Without Waste program.
This informative event for Task Force members was made possible with support from The Coca-Cola Company, a 2023 Love the Boot Week sponsor.
Watch highlights from the Task Force breakfast and Love the Boot Week kickoff: