Apr 22, 2005

Caltrans Sends Environmental Message: ''Don't Trash California''

Prior to the recent Earth Day, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) launched its statewide Don't Trash California Stormwater Public Education Campaign, a $6.5 million statewide effort to reduce the amount of pollutants (including litter) that enter the highway storm drains and, ultimately, waterways.
Litter on the highways and freeways can find its way into storm drains and pollute waterways and the environment. Water flowing through storm drains laden with litter can empty into streams and creeks, and ultimately affect recreational areas such as lakes, rivers and the ocean.
"Litter poses a real threat to the health of our residents and the vitality of our marine and wildlife," said Caltrans Director Will Kempton. Every year Caltrans spends more than $40 million on litter removal. The Caltrans Don't Trash California campaign, running through September 2006, is an education campaign aimed at raising the level of awareness among Californians of the effects of littering.
To draw further attention to the array of trash found along California's freeways and highways, Caltrans today unveiled sculptures made of litter that will be toured throughout the state. Bay area artists Claudia Chapline, Daphne Ruff and Tyrome Tripoli created the pieces using actual trash collected by Caltrans along the freeways.
"As we looked through the piles collected by Caltrans, it was evident how careless motorists can be with their trash. We found car parts, furniture, boxes, bags and anything else you can imagine that might be tossed from a car window," said artist Daphne Ruff. "I hope my sculpture will make Californians think about the litter polluting our state and reconsider their actions."
Research indicates that litter comes from seven primary sources: pedestrians, drivers, household garbage cans, commercial dumpsters, construction sites, loading docks and uncovered trucks. According to Caltrans, the number one item found along California freeways is cigarette butts. Other litter found on freeways includes food cartons, Styrofoam cups, napkins, plastic utensils, food wrappers, matches, soft drink bottles and cans, paper bags, tissues, plastic sheets, film, boxes, clothes, newspapers, magazines, metal, foil, anti-freeze and motor oil containers, grease, paint and paint thinners, tires, and much more.
The Don't Trash California campaign is based on a successful three-year pilot program completed in the Fresno Metropolitan Area in 2003. The campaign is in accordance with California Department of Transportation's National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) Permit requirements.
For additional information, please visit www.DontTrashCalifornia.info.