How to Swat-A-Litter Bug – StarNewsOnline.com

I was leaving Greenfield Grind Skate Park after a rewarding and sweaty skateboarding session when a car sped into the parking lot. I watched as they stopped, and two doors opened. Plastic cups and bottles began falling from the open car doors—intentionally. I approached the car, but the occupants slammed the doors and went on their way, leaving all their trash behind. Before they sped off, I noted their license plate number, pulled out my cellphone and opened the Swat-A-Litter-Bug” app shortcut.
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The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has a nifty program where you can report littering offenses—small or large. I typed in the vehicle’s plate number and described what I had witnessed. The form takes less than one minute to fill out and the NCDOT will mail a formal message to the registered vehicle owner. Littering is illegal and can have extremely adverse effects on wildlife and ultimately our community. Why are we still littering? Laziness? Maybe. Lack of trash cans or recycle bins? Sometimes. If there is trash already on the ground in the area, I could understand why someone would be tempted to litter. Although, just maybe, if that person received a written letter in the mail calling them out for environmental degradation, they might not feel like doing it again. We have to start holding each other accountable for our waste or we will face some extreme environmental consequences in the near future.
What can you do to help divert waste in our community?
The NCDOT Swat-A-Litter-Bug program is one simple and discreet way for you to help keep litter offenders in check. You can access the anonymous form by logging onto https://www.ncdot.gov/litter/default.aspx.
In the Wilmington community, there are frequent cleanups led by local organizations and individuals. I recently hosted the first Skate & Sweep event at Greenfield Grind Skate Park in hopes of keeping the place I love so much clean and maintained. Volunteers were given trash bags and gloves and encouraged to pick up trash all over the Greenfield Lake area. Once they finished, they returned to the skate park and had their bounty of trash weighed. Their name and bag weight would be placed on the leaderboard for everyone to see. This made picking up trash into a friendly and exciting competition. We then celebrated picking up almost 23 pounds of trash by skating in the now spotless park.
In the future, I would like to reward the volunteer who picks up the most trash with a gift card to a local business or facility. Although it is just the right thing to do, I feel that some sort of incentive would help bring the community together. If you have a business and would like to support Greenfield Lake cleanup efforts, please contact me at Gad7959@gmail.com.
There is an exciting new twist for the next Greenfield Skate & Sweep. Island Wildlife, a North Carolina Wildlife Federation Chapter, will be sponsoring future Skate & Sweeps. For every 25 pounds of trash collected, the chapter will fund one native tree to be planted in the Wilmington area.
The next Skate & Sweep is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Greenfield Grind Skate Park, 1739 Burnett Blvd., Wilmington. To participate, simply show up ready to have fun and collect trash. Skateboard not required. 
If you have interest in sponsoring a future Skate & Sweep, please reach out to Gabriella de Souza at Gad7959@gmail.com.
Gabriella de Souza serves as secretary for the New Hanover County Cooperative Extension Advisory Council, a volunteer group supporting the programs and events of Cooperative Extension at the Arboretum. The Arboretum is free and open daily from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. and is located at 6206 Oleander Drive, Wilmington, N.C.

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