COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — The city of Columbia created a task force made of officials and private citizens to address the growing trash problem.
Mayor Chaz Molder told NewsChannel 5 that littering has become a major issue in the city as the population continues to grow. The Litter Task Force, formed two weeks ago, hopes to address ways to change the public's behavior, reduce waste and maintain cleanliness. The city, which has a population of approximately 40,000, collects about 30 bags of litter each week.
"It's certainly not something that's just unique to us but I do think that at the end of the day, we need to do a better job in promoting being a litter-free community," Molder said. "Government can be very helpful in solving problems but when we have community members who are also interested and concerned about an issue get behind something, that's when the sky truly is the limit."
The county also collects litter daily. In 2018, the Maury County Solid Waste Department collected 68 tons of litter. The number jumped to 77 tons in 2019.
About a dozen members are part of the task force including Melissa LaForest of Keep Maury Beautiful, Inc. LaForest already works to educate people about litter prevention and recycling. Education is a big component of her, and she hopes to expand awareness into more schools on a regular basis on every grade level.
"Trash seems to have exploded lately. I think the task force is a great idea," LaForest said.
There's also a student advisory board comprised of students aged 16 to 20 years old. LaForest wants to recommend growing the board to include middle school students.
Anyone can be a part of the task force. The next meeting will be held on March 17 at city hall. The task force is given 90 to 100 days to present recommendations.