Want to clean up the planet? Start with the Birmingham area—here’s how.


Leeds clean up
Leeds residents team up to pick up! Photo submitted

Listen up, litterbugs! We all know littering is not the best thing for the environment. In fact, it’s one of the worst things that we can do because of its far-reaching effects on many aspects of our lives here in Jefferson County. It hurts wildlife, damages ecosystems—plus, it makes Birmingham the beautiful look downright dingy.

If you do litter, here are three reasons you should stop.  If you don’t and would like to make an even bigger impact on the littering problem, engage your community and organize a litter cleanup,  Here’s how to get started!

1. A Little Bit of Litter Can Add Up to BIG Economic Consequences

trash pickup
Over 470 tons of litter have been picked up by volunteers in Alabama to date—that’s over 300 Honda Civics, in case you were wondering. Photo submitted

That simple act of tossing your water bottle, food wrapper, or cigarette butt out of the car window is hurting your wallet. Cleaning up litter costs U.S. taxpayers and $11.5 BILLION each year.

Jefferson County has big plans in the works for their funds that will improve the lives of Birmingham residents. Our resources shouldn’t be wasted on picking up after citizens.

Not to mention, litter in your community can reduce your property value by as much as 24%—which affects homeowners directly.

2. Litter has a Massive Effect on Local Water Quality

Alabama PALS (People Against a Littered State) was created to make the state more beautiful by sponsoring programs focused on cleaning up litter while also educating the community about the negative effects of litter. Photo submitted

The main goal of Jefferson County cleanup initiatives has always been to improve water quality by reducing littering.

Think about any trash you’ve ever seen on the side of the road—it all has to go somewhere, and generally, that somewhere is local waterways after the litter is picked up and carried by rainwater or blown by wind. In central Alabama, our beautiful rivers are usually hit the hardest.

Once it gets there, it doesn’t just go away, either. Aluminum cans can last up to 100 years, and plastic bottles can be around much longer.

3. Save the 🌎 One Trashbag at a Time

Volunteer cleanup
Thousands of volunteers in Jefferson County alone have contributed to local cleanup efforts in the last several years. Photo submitted

If you live in Jefferson County, you’re no stranger to the area’s stunning natural beauty. What you may never have heard is that Alabama is one of the most biodiverse places in the nation.

Simply put, our beautiful state’s wildlife (think plants, animals, etc)—has more variety than pretty much anywhere else! What does that mean for us? Well, it means that the one napkin you drop out of your window in Jefferson County can harm an incredible (and incredibly rare) ecosystem.

Ready to Get Started? Here’s How to Organize Your Own Cleanup

roadway cleanup
Working hard to clean up roadways in Pleasant Grove. Photo submitted

Want to participate in or organize a cleanup of your own? Good news! Jefferson County will provide materials (gloves, AL PALS bags, safety backpacks) and support (traffic control, trash removal) for volunteers removing litter and trash from County maintained roadways.

For cleanups along roads not maintained by the County, please contact the Jefferson County Department of Health’s Watershed Protection Program at (205) 933-9110.

Get more info and find out who to contact to request support!

Pick it up, Jefferson County! Be sure to share your cleanup efforts on social media and tag us @BhamNow for a chance to be featured.

Sponsored by:

Beth Cunningham
Beth Cunningham

A Birmingham transplant who can usually be found hitting a new hiking trail or restaurant opening when she's not writing stories and snapping photos for Bham Now.

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