PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Litter facts first priority for solutions

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Tupelo’s litter problem isn’t just my concern.
From the responses received since I wrote about this a few weeks ago, it’s clear that other people – high and low – believe something effective should be done about the trash that plagues our otherwise attractive community.
I heard from public officials, public employees and just plain-ole public.
But complaints, mine and yours, aren’t where this should end.
Sherrie Cochran, the city’s environmental planner, is equally concerned and wants to find solutions.
She’s also asked me, in a very polite way, to roll up my sleeves and help or hush.
Not one to be very quiet about much, I’ve accepted the former option.
Where our good intentions will go, I don’t know, but I am committed to being helpful. Only the psychologically disturbed or terribly bored would seek to volunteer for a mission without a future.
Sherrie and I plan to sit down for an initial conversation soon.
First, I believe we need to analyze a random sampling of litter from numerous city locales and determine, if we can, the source of the litter.
No, CSI will not be involved.
I have my own ideas about this, but that doesn’t mean they are correct.
With some serious examinations and latex gloves, I believe we will be able to draw some conclusions about our litter samples.
Is this private stuff that someone grabbed out of the refrigerator or pantry and just chose to toss out their vehicle window?
Or is this the remnants of purchases from distinct locations?
I’m hopeful that if we can answer the litter source question, we can develop a strategy to address the problem.
And it is a problem, no denying that.
I also do not believe midnight surveillance by Tupelo’s Finest is an immediate solution.
That seems a waste of good talent and treasure.
Harsh fines seem to be a good deterrent, but unless you can actually apprehend a real offender, what good are they?
So, where does that leave us?
One, to figure out where this litter comes from.
Two, to devise a strategy to combat the problem at its source.
And ultimately, to find ways to educate the public, and especially young children, that it’s wrong to litter.
That way, we “grow” the next generation of people who care about being good stewards of our city, and we also “grow” a vocal opposition to the practice when they’re riding in their family vehicles.
That third approach is long-range but important.
It’s a more immediate strategy that I hope Sherrie, I and other interested folks can make happen.
Join us, if you like.
Patsy R. Brumfield writes a Thursday column. If you’d like to be part of the litter solution, contact her at patsy.brumfield@ journalinc.com or (662) 678-1596.