Guilford County Department of Public Health working to find solution to littering problem

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- Bottles, bags and beer cans are some of the trash you likely see every day on the side of the highway.

Merle Green, the director at the Guilford County Department of Public Health, says we need to do something about it. She says littering has always been an issue but recently her team has noticed more trash near our highways, especially things like fast food items and cans.

“Rodents like trash… rodents carry disease,” Green said. She says litter is not only an eyesore, but also a health and environmental concern. “Our deer and squirrels might eat these things.”

Now, she and her team are reaching out to local representatives and other departments, like the DOT and Health and Humans Services, to solve the problem.

“No one who we talked to has said, 'No, this is not an issue,' they've all said, ‘Thank you for bringing that up,’” Green said.

The state already has some programs to address litter but Green thinks it’s time for a stronger push.

More education, stronger enforcement and additional warning signs are some of the things Green thinks could help deter people from dumping.

In North Carolina it is against the law to litter. The fine starts at $250.

Highway Patrol says citations are uncommon because you must see someone in the act or have obvious proof before issuing a ticket.

Last year, the North Carolina Department of Transportation spent nearly $19 million removing litter on state routes.

“They shouldn't have to. If you do your job, they don't have to,” said Judy Wilmoth, a Guilford County resident.

It’s a problem people will have to pay for in one way or another.

“You only get one planet so keep it clean,” said Connor Coleman, another Guilford County resident.