The Last Straw Initiative hosted a cleanup day in Crossett and has others planned for the future in Ashley County and surrounding areas.
Matt Sharp, Bryson Green and Sean Duncan, all members of Last Straw, have decided that enough is enough and hope to clean up the county and encourage others to keep it clean.
“They aren’t doing this for recognition, but I want to be sure they get it,” Ashley County Judge Jim Hudson said about the group.
Hudson said the group and volunteers spent Saturday cleaning nearly a mile and half of Hancock Road and collected approximately 46 commercial size trash bags of trash.
The Last Straw Initiative — along with volunteers Ian McClain, Leigha Sharp and Rosie Henry — cleaned up trash for more than 12 hours, Hudson said.
Sharp said the sheer amount of trash collected is an example of how bad the litter problem really is in Ashley County and he wants to make people aware that their one cigarette butt or one coke can, when combined with the rest of the population’s, can add up to 46 bags of trash.
“What we hope is with a solid visual documentation along side informative numbers such as total weight, number of bags, length of time it take to clean and an estimated distance, we will give people something tangible that will pull them on board and encourage them to be more aware of their surroundings and responsibilities,” Sharp said.
Sharp and his fellow members really want to bring awareness to littering and how it is not the county or the city’s job to clean up, but the responsibility of the citizens to not litter. Other places in the state do not appear to have the litter problem that Ashley County has, he said.
Though Sharp said he doesn’t know the specific reason people here are so quick to litter, he said it could be lack of pride or it could be that they simply don’t understand how bad it makes the community look, not to mention the environmental problems it causes.
“It must be something, and we just hope we can change the way people see it,” Sharp said.
Sharp says the biggest goal of their group is about more than working in the heat to clean up litter, it’s about encouraging people to help prevent the issue at the source.
“The biggest part people can play in this initiative is simply not littering,” Sharp said. “Putting their cigarette butts in a bottle or can instead of out their window, holding on to that cup for another 100 steps until they reach a trash can.”
By focusing on litter prevention, community pride and public education on the matter, Sharp and his group hopes to not only clean up the county, but keep it clean.
“What we really hope to convey is that getting out there and cleaning it up will never fix the problem and at this rate we will never be able to keep it clean,” Sharp said. “If we can change the way people see this issue, the rest will fall into place,” Sharp said.
Sharp said when those changes are made his group will no longer be posting 46 bags of trash.
“That’s where we want to be, that’s our goal,” Sharp said.
The next cleanup day is set for Sept. 7 and will also be on Hancock Road.