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RIDOT and Earth Day: Cleaning up the roads one mile at a time


The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) held a press event today to recognize Earth Day and ask motorists to help keep Rhode Island’s roads, highways and bridges clean. To illustrate the trash problem in Rhode Island a mountain of trash bags collected in just one day was used as a backdrop for the event.

“Nearly 800 bags of trash were collected from our state roads in just one 24-hour period,” said RIDOT’s Director Michael Lewis. “Every piece of trash we had to pick up was disposed of improperly and that’s a shame.”

The biggest litter problems in Rhode Island are beverage containers, including water, soda and alcohol bottles, fast food packaging, and cigarette butts. Nationally the top three litter problems are fast food waste, paper products, and aluminum beer cans.

Debris on roadways nationwide causes 25,000 accidents and over 80 fatalities each year. Approximately 55 percent of roadside litter occurs intentionally by people dropping their trash on the road. The other 45 percent of roadside litter is caused by trash blowing out of uncovered trucks or falling off of unsecured loads.

“While it might only take 2 – 5 weeks for a banana peel to decompose, it takes 200 – 500 years for an aluminum can to do the same. RIDOT is asking motorists to take their trash home and dispose of it properly because Earth Day isn’t just today but every day,” said Lewis.

Earth Day began on April 22, 1970, making this the 38th celebration. Over 20 million people celebrated the first Earth Day. Today over 1 billion people celebrate it worldwide.

Contact: Dana Alexander Nolfe 401-222-1362 x4450


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Department or agency: Department of Transportation