In response to an increase in litter and illegal dumping in the area during the COVID-19 pandemic, Richland County is launching an anti-litter messaging campaign to encourage residents to engage in efforts to help beautify their communities.
“Richland County: Too Good to Trash” will run from Saturday, March 20 to Saturday, April 17, with several cleanup events hosted by County Councilmembers planned during this timeframe. During the four-week period, the County will disseminate messaging to encourage residents to use the County’s curbside pickup and drop-off center services, report illegal dumping and learn more about litter’s effect on the environment.
Residents are encouraged to take part in or organize cleanup initiatives in their communities and tell others about their efforts by sharing photos on social media using the hashtag #LitterFreeRC or emailing email@example.com.
Representatives from three divisions of the County’s Public Works Department that focus on waste disposal and environmental issues – Special Services, Solid Waste & Recycling and Stormwater Management – want the campaign to serve as a reminder that everyone has a role in preventing litter.
“Litter does damage to our neighborhoods’ image and harms our environment. By picking up and preventing litter, citizens can keep both waterways and communities clean. It’s all about taking pride in our community,” said Chenille Williams, education program coordinator for Stormwater Management.
Since the pandemic, the County’s roadsides, green spaces and waterways have seen higher amounts of food containers and personal protective equipment (i.e., face masks and gloves) not disposed of properly, among other materials.
Special Services, which cleans up illegal dumpsites and conducts other cleanup efforts, has been impacted because inmate labor has been postponed during the pandemic, said George Wilson, manager of Special Services.
Disposing of any garbage, junk, paper, appliances, tree limbs or other debris in unincorporated areas of Richland County except at approved solid waste management facilities is considered illegal dumping. Currently, anyone caught littering in the County can face a fine of up to $1,087.50. Residents should report high-trash areas and illegal dumping in the County by calling the Ombudsman at 803-929-6000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The County’s drop-off centers offer complete recycling services as well as disposal options for furniture, yard waste and other materials. The County also operates dedicated recycling sites. A recycling guide on the County’s website includes guidelines for disposing of trash properly.
“Keeping Richland County litter-free helps to protect our environment just as much as recycling. Do your part, put trash securely in its place and recycle whenever possible,” said Syndi Castelluccio, recycling coordinator for the County.
Residents are encouraged to participate in upcoming planned cleanup events around the County.
Councilman Derrek Pugh, who represents District 2, is hosting events over the next two weekends in the Broad River Road area and the town of Blythewood. The Broad River Community Cleanup: A Day of Service will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 20. All volunteers will meet at St. Andrews Park (920 Beatty Road, Columbia) for a safety briefing.
The second event, Blythewood Community Cleanup, is Saturday, March 27. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. at Blythewood Town Hall (171 Langford Road, Blythewood).
“These events are opportunities for residents to come together to clean up and take pride in the community,” Pugh said. “We love where we live, so our surroundings should be a reflection of that.”
Councilwoman Chakisse Newton, who represents District 11, is planning a cleanup April 17 in the Lower Richland area. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and is a collaborative effort with S.C. Rep. Jermaine Johnson and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD). Volunteers will meet at the RCSD Region 1 Substation (2615 Lower Richland Blvd., Columbia).
Newton said watching the community come together to prevent and clean up litter has been inspiring.
“We're proud to be from and live in Richland County,” she said. “Keeping our neighborhoods beautiful is a way to show the pride that we feel for our great community.”
- Broad River Community Cleanup: 9 a.m. Saturday, March 20. Volunteers will meet at St. Andrews Park for a safety briefing and instructions.
- Blythewood Community Cleanup: 9 a.m. Saturday, March 27. Volunteers will meet at Blythewood Town Hall for a safety briefing and instructions.
- Lower Richland Community Event: 10 a.m. Saturday, April 17. Volunteers will meet at the RCSD Region 1 Substation for a safety briefing and instructions.