Contact: Media Relations
Phone: (512) 463-8700
Date: April 2, 2013
Litter problem increasing with more than 1 billion pieces of trash collected annually
AUSTIN- You might think Don't mess with Texas® is just a saying, but it's way more. It's a call to action created by the Texas Department of Transportation 27 years ago to stop litterers in their tracks. Today, TxDOT announced the state's anti-litter campaign is getting a makeover. With a new look, Don't mess with Texas® is designed to appeal to young adults between the ages of 16 and 34 who were not born when TxDOT first rolled out its now world-famous litter prevention program.
"Don't mess with Texas®is an iconic brand and campaign that we want people to be proud of and that helps keep our state clean," said Ted Houghton, Chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. "It's our shared responsibility to prevent littering and to pick up after ourselves when travelling around our great state."
"We want to remind all Texans and visitors that trash belongs in a trash can and not along our roadways," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT's executive director. "That's why trash barrels are playing a key role in the re-launch of Don't mess with Texas®, our state's most critical and successful anti-litter campaign."
An estimated 1.1 billion pieces of trash are tossed along more than 80,000 miles of state-maintained roadways. In an effort to reduce this growing volume of litter that includes fast-food packaging, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, small pieces of paper, plastic bags, and other items tossed from vehicles, TxDOT is taking Don't mess with Texas® back to its roots by resurrecting the iconic red, white, and blue trash barrels. In the coming months, the "CANpaign" will be visible to Texans everywhere as more than 300 of these barrels will appear across the state at travel information centers, popular tourist attractions, sports venues and other high-traffic locations to remind drivers to properly dispose of litter.
Texas is home to more than 25 million people, and an estimated 1,000 people move into the state every day who may not realize that littering is against state law. Litterers can be fined up to $500 for the first offense. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.
"Not only is it our responsibility to pick up our trash, but doing so reduces the amount TxDOT and taxpayers spend on litter prevention efforts," added Wilson. "In fact, our estimates show that these programs are saving TxDOT and taxpayers some $4.7 million annually."
More information on Don't mess with Texas® can be found at dontmesswithtexas.org. This website features background on the campaign, research information about litter on Texas roads and highways, and engaging content to help raise awareness about the importance of litter prevention.