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Don't Trash Arizona
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Litter: Let’s get Schooled
You probably didn’t know that you’ll take more than 642 million breaths in your lifetime. Or, that most Muppets are left-handed. It’s likely you also weren’t aware that it could take up to five years for a banana peel to fully decompose.
With kids headed back to the classroom this month across the state, it’s a great time for Don’t Trash Arizona to school the rest of us on little known litter facts. Valley drivers may think the tiny wrappers they toss from the windows of their cars are insignificant, but they're not. Every piece adds up.
Cleanup crews from the Arizona Department of Transportation collect about 450 bags of litter each weekday from Valley roadways. That adds up to about 2,250 bags of litter every week, or more than 110,000 bags every year. Stack those bags, and they would tower 18.5 times higher than Mount Everest!
And that’s downright ugly.
Cigarette butts, one of the most commonly littered items, contain 165 poisonous chemicals that can contaminate the environment around them. Soda cans, if left alone, can take up to 500 years to decompose. And Styrofoam can take up to a million years to decompose.
It just makes more sense to not litter in the first place. When someone does litter, someone else has to pick it up. Local ADOT teams haul away about 100,000 pounds of litter each month from Valley roadways. That adds up to about 1.2 million pounds of trash a year, which is equal to the weight of three blue whales. 
Have you seen a blue whale? They’re the heaviest animal on the planet.
So here’s our teachable moment: Litter costs us money to clean up, it impacts our ability to attract new business and tourists, it slows our commutes, and it can be deadly. Statistics indicate that, on average, one person dies in Maricopa County each year in accidents caused by dangerous debris.
Litter could also cost you cold, hard cash. If you litter and get caught, the fine is $500. It’s easier to keep your trash in your car and your money in your pocket.

So, with today’s lesson in hand, you have an assignment. Whether you’re a teacher, parent or student, be sure to share this valuable information with others and Don’t Trash Arizona!
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Maricopa Association of Governments ADOT Don't Trash Arizona
©2015 Maricopa Association of Governments
302 North 1st Avenue, Suite 300, Phoenix, AZ 85003
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