Freshwater Land Trust released the final installment of its four-part short film series, “Trash Free Waters in Central Alabama,” highlighting the history and successes of Project Litter Gitter and the consequences of trash in our waterways. The release of the film coincides with the conclusion of the grant that catalyzed the project.
In 2020, FLT was one of three Alabama recipients to be selected for a $500,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund six litter gitters over three years, as part of EPA’s Trash Free Waters program. Although the project initially started with six devices, there are now a total of twelve litter gitters throughout Central Alabama as of May 2023, removing litter from both the Black Warrior and Cahaba River watersheds. Of the twelve, five are in Birmingham, two are in Homewood, and there is one each in Alabaster, Bessemer, Brighton, Tarrant, and Trussville. Alabama-based company Osprey Initiative installs and maintains the devices, removes trash, shares inventory data from the devices, and recycles as much collected litter as possible.
The EPA grant was also used to fund anti-litter programming, including the Litter Quitters educational initiative in Birmingham and the production of the “Trash Free Waters in Central Alabama” series. The first three parts of the series cover the problem (litter), how the problem can be addressed, and how the problem can be prevented. The fourth and final entry is called, “Solving the Problem: Alabama the Beautiful.”
FLT’s conclusion of the series to not only emphasizes the destructive consequences of littering but also what makes the state of Alabama uniquely beautiful and worth protecting, like its native species. Alabama is one of the top five most biodiverse states in the country and holds the number one ranking for freshwater biodiversity.
Litter is a significant problem in the State of Alabama, posing risks to native wildlife (including threatened and endangered species) and human health. In 2014, Alabama was ranked the 16th dirtiest state in the country, according to the American State Litter Scorecard, and it was reported that the Alabama Department of Transportation spent $7.34 million on litter cleanup throughout the state in fiscal year 2022.
Since the first litter gitter was installed in December 2019, over 22,000 pounds (eleven tons) of litter has been removed from Central Alabama as a direct result of Project Litter Gitter.