PENNSYLVANIA (WTAJ) – The Wolf Administration joined Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful representatives on Monday to announce the launch of the statewide anti-litter campaign, “PA Fights Dirty: Every Litter Bit Matters.”

“As a commonwealth, we recognize we need to change behavior, not just clean up the mess,” PennDOT Secretary Yassmin Gramian said. “With our collective efforts and this litter-prevention campaign, we are confident we can reduce litter in Pennsylvania.”

“Every Litter Bit Matters” calls upon Pennsylvanians to ensure every piece of their trash, regardless of size, is disposed of properly. The campaign is based on research that shows only 3% of Pennsylvanians approve of littering, yet 40 to 50 percent litter.

“Easily we can recycle. Easily we can properly dispose of things,” said Joanne Schafer, deputy director & recycling coordinator for the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority. “There’s absolutely no reason at all to put that litter in an illegal dump, by the side of the road, in the commonwealth’s waters.” 

The campaign will educate Pennsylvanians on situational littering, such as leaving trash on the ground next to a full can or in a stadium, as well as remind Pennsylvanians that litter of all sizes stacks up and creates problems.

“Litter isn’t just ugly to look at. It can cause environmental contamination and put public health at risk,” Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Ramez Ziadeh said. “Litter can leach chemicals into our land and water, and act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes that carry West Nile Virus.”

On Tuesday, College Township in Centre County shared that mosquitos surveyed in the area tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“It is not only the aesthetic value but also the environmental and the health,” said Schafer. “It’s all tied together.” 

In addition to improving aesthetics and pride, a goal of “Every Litter Bit Matters” is to reduce litter-related costs, which are currently around $350 million each year.

“As we work hand-in-hand with local community leaders, they frequently mention the challenges they face with litter – a challenge that impacts property values, business attraction, quality of life, health, and so much more,” Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development Acting Secretary Neil Weaver said. “By preventing littering from occurring, we are saving communities valuable time and money in litter removal.”

The campaign also features the state’s Young Ambassadors Program, a new partnership with PennDOT and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful (KPB). The program – which starts accepting applications August 1 – was recommended in the Litter Action Plan and invites Pennsylvania rising 10th- through 12th-grade students to help keep the commonwealth clean.

“We are honored to offer the Young Ambassadors of Pennsylvania Program in partnership with PennDOT. We know the students of today hold the key to a sustainable future. We’re excited to work with and guide this group of Young Ambassadors to implement change in their communities and the commonwealth,” Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful President Shannon Reiter said. 

The students – chosen through a competitive process – will commit to nine months of service in representing and upholding the mission and values of KPB. Other responsibilities include attending a virtual orientation, four virtual education and training workshops, and up to two virtual networking events, organizing and participating in at least one community cleanup event through Pick Up Pennsylvania, conducting one community education event targeting youth in the student’s community and promoting participation on social media.

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From September 2022 through May 2023, Young Ambassadors will build community stewardship by inspiring, engaging, and empowering Pennsylvanians to keep their communities clean and develop civic leadership to advocate for clean and beautiful communities across Pennsylvania.

“We’re hoping to help mobilize them to set a good example for their peers, and also for their families and their communities,” said Alexis Campbell, press secretary for PennDOT.

More information and the application for the Young Ambassadors Program can be found on the KPB website.