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WHEREAS, a month-long, statewide beautification campaign managed by Keep Virginia Beautiful will provide resources and guidance to individuals, groups, and businesses who care about the litter issue and want to make a difference. This new annual effort includes self-directed projects, organized cleanups, and educational opportunities and events, all aimed at beautifying Virginia communities, raising awareness of environmental issues, and ultimately changing behavior; and
WHEREAS, more than 51 billion pieces of litter are released on American roadways each year, or 6,729 items per mile of roadway, and 75% of people surveyed in the United States admitted to littering in the past five years; and
WHEREAS, 52% of roadway litter comes from motorists and 23% from pedestrians; and
WHEREAS, 9 billion tons of trash end up in the ocean each year; and
WHEREAS, $11.5 billion is spent on litter pickup operations each year in the U.S.; and
WHEREAS, between 2018- 2021, through the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT’s) Adopt-A-Highway Program, 18,327 volunteers worked 156,446 hours picking up a total of 125,790 bags of trash; and
WHEREAS, through VDOT’s new Beautify Virginia program, established in 2020, 5,445 bags of trash were collected along 200 miles of interstate; and
WHEREAS, in 2020, VDOT launched the ongoing Virginia is for Lovers, Not Litter initiative to raise awareness about Virginia’s litter challenge and to promote ways to preserve Virginia’s picturesque roadways, landscapes, and views; and
WHEREAS, in 2021, the Virginia General Assembly increased the litter tax payment for businesses and also increased the fines for those who litter; and
WHEREAS, in addition to these programs, VDOT spends $3.5 million annually, a total of $14.4 million over the past four years, on litter removal in Virginia; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia is dedicated to environmental stewardship and sustainability, in order to keep Virginia’s landscapes and roadways litter-free, lovely, and welcoming to all; and
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize October 2021, as VIRGINIA IS FOR LOVERS, NOT LITTER MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.