Cleaning Up Columbia's Litter Up to Residents

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COLUMBIA - Columbia officials are relying on the residents of Columbia to clean up litter around the city.

Public Works official Steven Sapp says the Columbia Street Division does daily cleaning on the main streets and bigger clean ups every eight to 10 weeks, but most litter clean up comes from volunteers.

The Adopt-A-Spot volunteer program has grown to over 100 groups who volunteer four times per year to clean up trash filled spots to make up for the lack of clean up.

However, some citizens feel volunteer efforts aren't consistent enough when the city needs cleaning up.

"You see the streets of Columbia on Sunday mornings being filled with litter, that can be a problem," said Chuck Mastalski.

However, several public officials agreed that they must rely on the citizens for litter clean up.

"It really is the citizens responsibility if they want their neighborhoods to be clean, because the litter is not just appearing. People are littering," said Volunteer Specialist Andrea Shelton.

The city of Columbia charges $140 on your first littering offense. In Missouri, you can be fined up to $1,000 for littering.

One former resident said he has noticed more litter around town than when he lived in Columbia and agreed residents must take some responsibility for that.

"If you want people to visit your establishment, your business, your restaurant, your store, whatever, you want to make it more attractive for them to come in or walk by. That benefits everybody," said Jim Steins.

However, Steins said it is unrealistic to expect everyone to clean up, and the city needs to play a bigger role too.

"You still need the city almost as a back up to make sure everybody's doing their part," said Steins.

Shelton said you can help out in multiple ways. She said they always need more volunteers to sign up. You can sign up for the Adopt-A-Spot program on their website.

Shelton said you can also do the simple things outside of volunteering.

"If you're walking your dog and see the litter, you call into the street department or call into the city or just get a bag and start cleaning up litter," said Shelton.