Combat litter in Madisonville

Whoa, ah, mercy mercy me
Oh things ain’t what they used to be, no no
Where did all the blue skies go?
Poison is the wind that blows from the north and south and east…

These are just a few lyrics from the 1971 song, “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)” by Marvin Gaye

A hope that the Citizens of Madisonville will focus more of their attention on combating litter to prevent significant environmental consequences. The reason I felt the need to write about this topic stems from a conversation I had with a citizen the other day. While inspecting a home site that was having the water and sewer tap installed the neighbor came over to see what was going on. During our talk I was noticing all of the trash, beer cans and bottles, empty cigarette packs, etc. that lined the street. I asked the citizen why this is the way it is. On a street that dead ends and not really a rental area but a long time family residential street. I was Thunderstruck by the answer, “Oh, well that is how it has always been”. Just that lack of apathy showed me that we have a long way to go. Working for the city I hear a lot of complaints from individuals that one thing or another is not getting done fast enough. At times it makes me wonder why some do not feel the need to help themselves with something as simple as picking up trash that lines their own street.

It is important to educate our young people about litter prevention, to develop healthy skills at a fundamental age, while also raising awareness within families in a fun way.

The main factor of littering is attitude. Individuals feel it is okay to litter “where litter is cleaned up periodically,” “where there is no ownership “and “where there is already an accumulation of litter.” Educating individuals of the environmental outcomes of litter is vital to combat littering attitudes.

Why do people litter?

Laziness and carelessness have bred a culture of habitual littering. Carelessness has made people throw rubbish anywhere without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Many people do not realize or underestimate the negative impacts of littering on the environment. People believe that their individual actions will not harm society as a whole. As a result, it is common to see people throwing wrappers, cigarette butts and other rubbish in public areas. The majority of people believe that there are others who will clean up after them and consequently, the responsibility of cleaning up litter usually falls on local governments and taxpayers. Thus, the lack of responsibility to look after public places is another problem.

Litter is a serious issue in the United States with over 51 billion pieces appearing on roadways each year. Litter clean-up costs the country over $11.5 billion annually with only 79.5 percent of that effort covered by businesses, leaving the remainder to be covered by local and state government, educational institutions and different organizations. Specifically, educational institutions spend approximately $241 million dollars annually for litter clean up.

Litter can easily be moved into gutters, lawns, alleyways and structures by wind, weather, traffic and animals. It can also be moved into local waterways by storm drains, which often results in contaminated water. In addition to the health issues the contaminated water might cause, litter can decrease property value by nearly nine percent with home values decreasing from 10 percent to 24 percent.

To empower the community to prevent litter, the City of Madisonville phone number (936) 348-2748 is open as a Litter Hotline allowing citizens to anonymously report litter incidents via phone, also you can email the City of Madisonville Code Enforcement Officer, Don Grooms at,  The threat should be taken serious, considering the City of Madisonville enforces a fine for a misdemeanor littering offense.

Sec. 18-82. – Littering prohibited.

It shall be unlawful for any person to throw or deposit litter on any private or public property within this city, whether owned by such person or not, except in trash receptacles for the collection of litter and in such manner that the litter may be prevented from being carried or deposited by the elements upon any street, sidewalks or other private or public property within the city.

(Ord. No. 616, § 1(d), 9-14-2004)

Sec.1-16. – the violation of any provision of this Code or of any ordinance, rule, regulation or order that governs or regulates fire, safety, zoning or public health or sanitation, including dumping of refuse, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $2,000.00.

Let us all be a part of the solution, let’s put an end to the problem of litter in our city.