Community Voices: ME campaign aims to educate us about environment


How do you get your neighbors to care about the environment? We seem to do such a good job with our children by educating them in the classroom. We succeed so well, the kids begin to hound us for results. Take cigarette smoking as an example. For years we told students cigarette smoking causes cancer. These days, children will challenge their parents to stop, and often save a life with their conviction.

A new conversation in Gwinnett wants to accomplish the same thing. The ME Campaign hopes to start the discussion and affect change not only in the classroom, but among neighbors, businesses and civic organizations.

ME is a memorable acronym that stands for “My Environment.” Created in partnership with Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful and the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners. The “Keep ME Clean” campaign is intended to foster a sense of pride and personal responsibility so that every time someone litters, they remember they’re hurting ME. On the other hand, any time a person stoops down to pick up a piece of trash, or a whole group gathers for a cleanup event, you are helping ME.

Speaking during one of our recent torrential rains, Gwinnett Clean & Beautiful Executive Director Connie Wiggins pointed out how something as simple as controlling litter can make a profound impact, “Preventing litter on our streets from getting into storm drains helps avoid flooding in our streets.”

So it’s not just about improving the appearance of our neighborhood, or maintaining property values, but about learning how our individual actions can impact one another.

The ME Campaign is the brainchild of GCB board member Pam Ledbetter, president of Accent Creative Group in Lawrenceville.

“We wanted to give the environment a voice as if it was speaking directly to the people that take care of it. There are a lot of ‘care for the environment’ signs/campaigns out there. ME: it’s up to ME to make the difference in My Environment,” she said.

The program has extensive goals and an established method for measuring results. Controlling litter is only one piece of the program, but it’s a good place to start. Anyone can participate by simply adding a litter bag to their car and picking up trash whenever possible.

The next step is reporting litterbugs by emailing with the location, make, model and license plate of offender, date and time of incident and what was littered. The litterbug will receive a “courtesy letter” explaining their offense and information to help them understand why littering matters.

As Wiggins puts it, “Our individual actions impact the environment more than we realize. The most important thing is to get involved.”