Guest opinion: There’s a litter bug invasion in paradise

It upsets me when I see it and I comment that, “it shouldn’t…

Guest opinion: There's a litter bug invasion in paradise 1

Thank you for The News-Press article about the newly formed SWFL Community Advisory Board.  I have some questions about the issue of litter. 

My husband and I have been seasonal Fort Myers residents for five years.  We love the beauty of Florida and are very concerned about the litter seen on a daily basis. Along city streets, county roads, ditches, canals, in Lee and Collier Counties, are large quantities of litter.

It upsets me when I see it and I comment that, “it shouldn’t be there and somebody should do something about it.” 

Florida thrives on tourism.  The trash and litter along State highways and interstates is not very welcoming.  It looks like no one cares.

There are volunteer programs we read about such as the “Great American Clean-Up”,  sponsored by Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc.  Scheduled clean-up days are on their very good website,

Earth Day was celebrated this week (April 22), but these activities may be one-day programs.  Perhaps more could be done by getting more organizations and families involved to Adopt A Highway, street or area to collect litter.  Examples: Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Moose, Churches, Schools, Scouts, 4-H, Condo Associations, Clubs, City, County and State workers, and local college students. 

Many states have signs along highways and roads that tell the name of  the group who has adopted the area to keep clean. I have seen some in our area and traveling Florida highways.  Some states also post signs with their state law penalty for littering:  “Penalty for littering is up to ___$___(ex. $1,000.00)”. That catches your eye!  Are waste management businesses and contractors informed about putting covers over their truck loads? 

Some school districts in other states have volunteer presenters come into the classroom to demonstrate recycling and to educate about “what does litter mean” and “why is it important not to litter”.  It could even be done virtually. This is education and awareness for preschool, elementary, middle school and high school students. They see the wildlife, birds, lakes, ponds, canals, beaches and ocean near us.  Does “Keep Lee County Beautiful, Inc.” do this?  I know they have had a booth at the Red Sox stadium.

More: Editorial: Clean up Florida’s dirty beaches

More: Coronavirus trash: There’s a new community of litterbugs out there

Publishing Florida’s Litter Law may also bring an awareness.  Investigate how this law is enforced.  

Florida is a beautiful state and it needs to be clean and inviting to residents and to tourists.  The Lee County and Collier County Visitor and Convention Bureau should also be involved.

During our five years here, I have collected a series of articles from The News-Press about the local environment: red tide, plastic in our waters, recycling, the economics of tourism, and letters to the editors about the need for community participation to make this a clean environment because it is inundated with litter.

Involving local TV stations to broadcast videos of “litter locations” provided by concerned citizens via email or hotlines may be effective.  Adding information about not littering and penalties on TV and radio stations could give public awareness reminders. And thanking viewers for not littering and for their clean- up efforts.

I am rather recent to the area, so perhaps some of these suggestions are already in place.  Any leadership your Advisory Board can provide to brainstorm solutions on this litter issue will be appreciated. 

Barb Gaard is a retired kindergarten teacher who taught students to recycle and to not litter.  She enjoys living in Fort Myers five months and Clive, Iowa the rest of the year.


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