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Area students combat littering across Birmingham metro

Litter Quitters launched in 2018 as a pilot project for high schools within the Valley Creek Watershed. (Provided Photo)
Special to the Times

Litter Quitters launched in 2018 as a pilot project for high schools within the Valley Creek Watershed. The project was so well received that it was expanded to include all 30 public high schools located in Jefferson County.

Representatives from the Litter Quitters committee give presentations to each participating school. The presentations include information about Jefferson County’s local waterways and watersheds, litter and its negative impacts on the environment, competition details and how their school can participate.

Each participating school submits one 60-second video into the competition. After content review, the videos are uploaded to the Litter Quitters website for 12 days of voting. Students promote their videos, and the videos with the most ‘likes’ at the end of the competition win cash prizes.

This year, due to the COVID -19 pandemic, Litter Quitters had to adapt to school closures. When schools moved to online classes, many students were unable to complete their videos. Of the 25 schools originally set to participate, only three schools were able to complete the project: Woodlawn, Ramsay, and George W. Carver High Schools.

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Woodlawn High School’s video received the most likes (4,858) and was awarded a $1,000.00 cash prize! In a sign of the times, this video showed how masks and gloves were being littered in parking lots and other places.

Littering is a major problem throughout Jefferson County and local governments waste significant tax dollars cleaning up roads and other public areas. Nationally, cleaning up litter costs taxpayers and businesses $11.5 billion each year. In addition, litter degrades water quality in creeks and streams, harms humans and animals, and affects property values and quality of life. Litter Quitters was created to spread the word that littering is costly, dangerous, and . . . stupid.

Age and maturity are major factors in the profile of a litterer. The most frequent culprits are teenagers and young adults. This age group is more than three times more likely to litter than older adults and that is why this campaign focuses on this demographic.

About four years ago, a group of like-minded organizations came together to create a community outreach and public awareness campaign to encourage everyone, but especially high school students, to stop littering. The Litter Quitters anti-littering campaign is a project spearheaded by the Jefferson County Conservation District in partnership with: City of Birmingham, City of Bessemer, City of Hoover, City of Leeds, Creative Directions, Inc., Freshwater Land Trust, Jefferson County Commission, Jefferson County Department of Health, Keep Birmingham Beautiful, and Stormwater Management Authority, Inc., and corporate sponsors ACIPCO, Drummond Company, and WBRC-TV and affiliates.

Donations from corporate sponsors WBRC-TV and affiliates, Drummond Company, Inc, and American Cast Iron Pipe Company helped pay for the cash prize, creation and airing of a public service message featuring students from participating high schools talking about the negative effects of littering, and an anti-littering digital billboard campaign.

Holly Killian with the Jefferson County Conservation District said, “We were thrilled that we were able to complete the competition in light of the COVID -19 pandemic going on around us. The students worked so hard on these videos and they all did excellent work! We are looking forward to the 2021 Litter Quitters competition when even more schools can participate.”

The videos and public service message are located at: LitterQuitters.Org.