Eye on the Environment: How littered is Hilliard?

As part of the Keep America Beautiful network, each affiliate must perform a yearly “Litter Index” to quantify the amount of litter in its community.

Hilliard became an affiliate in late 2017 and performed a Litter Index in 2018 and 2019. (No audits were performed in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.) Last month, six Keep Hilliard Beautiful (KHB) board members performed the 2022 Litter Index. The route was determined ahead of time, it was completely random, and incorporated both residential and commercial areas.

Melissa Muth is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.
Melissa Muth is a member of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission.

All members traveled in one vehicle. When we started down a designated index street, all talking stopped and each person graded the street individually with no discussion. The grades are: 1 – Minimal or No Litter; 2 – Slightly Littered; 3 – Littered; and 4 – Extremely Littered.

At the end of the route, all grading sheets are collected and an average for the day is calculated.

The good news is that, overall, Hilliard has a pretty good score. This year, it was 1.49, so between minimal and slightly littered.

The not-so-good news is that, year on year, Hilliard is getting more littered. In 2018, the score was 1.14. In 2019, the score was 1.34.

Most residential streets were pretty good. Mixed-use roadways and predominantly commercial roadways tended to be more heavily littered, perhaps because residential areas have less traffic and residents are more likely to collect litter in their own neighborhoods.

One category of litter that has not been counted in all three years has been advertising circulars delivered in plastic bags in residential neighborhoods. Such circulars are delivered on Saturday mornings when the index is performed, so no one has been outside to pick it up yet.

If residents leave these bags of advertising circulars in their driveways or yards for a long time, it does create litter and the index scores would increase significantly. So, Keep Hilliard Green reminds residents to please collect these bags – and remember that the papers can be tossed into your recycle bin after you’ve read what interests you and clipped the coupons!

The plastic sleeve should not be tossed there because it turns into a “tangler” at the recycling center. You can take it with your plastic grocery bags to the bins outside grocery stores for recycling.

A few other helpful hints:

• Please make sure to secure your trash within your car or truck bed before driving so nothing blows out.

• Please don’t deliberately throw trash out your car window.

• Finally, when you set your trash cans out for collection, keep the trash secure. Place the hinge side of the trash receptacle facing the wind so it stays closed as the wind blows across the lid instead of flipping open and blowing trash out.

If you want to kick it up a notch, pick up trash when you see it and join in on the scheduled litter pickups sponsored by KHB. Check us out on Instagram @KeepHilliardBeautifulOH.

Together, we can Keep Hilliard Beautiful!

Melissa Muth is vice chair of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission and the vice chair of Keep Hilliard Beautiful.

This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Eye on the Environment: How littered is Hilliard?