The New Jersey Department of Transportation has launched an anti-litter campaign aimed at millions of summer travelers.

NJ DOT Commissioner Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti said the campaign is aimed at reminding people to respect the state's environment and the state's roadways by keeping litter and trash in your cars during travel until it can be tossed in a proper trash receptacle.

"We want to maintain a good image and we want people to come here and admire us for all that is beautiful," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

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New Jersey has wonderful state parks, gardens, beaches, horse farms, cities and lots of history. She does not want people distracted by looking at trash in a number of places. The DOT has found that, for some reason, people have a tendency to toss trash on Jersey roads during their travels.

The state DOT picks up trash on roadways which takes them away from doing the tasks needed to keep the roads safe. So she's asking people to take a little bit of personal responsibility for disposing of their trash. When people travel, they often stop at service plazas, gas stations, convenience stores and fast food restaurants. All of those places have garbage cans where people can properly dispose of whatever is in their car. The side of the road is not the place to do that, she said.

So to help keep New Jersey beautiful, an aerial banner with a simple message that reads, "Please Don't Trash Our Garden State" will be flown over the 147 miles of coastline between Cape May and Sandy Hook each weekend through Labor Day. The message will be viewed by approximately two million people each weekend.

Gutierrez-Scaccetti recalled going to the beach as a child and getting excited whenever she saw the banner planes flying above. It gets lots of folks' attention. She said hopefully in a world of images and impressions, this will be a way to reach a lot of people very economically and efficiently.

In the past three and a half years, more than 11,000 tons of litter have been removed from Jersey highways at a cost of $8 million. In addition, the Department has removed 76,500 square yards of graffiti along state highways.

She said what's mind boggling is that during eight months of the past three and a half years, there were not a lot of cars on the roads because of the pandemic so that's a lot of trash in such a short period of time.

It's also important to keep in mind that when field crews are out there on state roadways picking up trash, it's keeping them from picking up debris, keeping drains clear, filling potholes and beautifying the state.

"So if we all do our part it allows them to focus on the tasks that keep our drivers safe and I think that's very important," Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

By properly disposing of trash keeps DOT workers safe too. They don't have to worry about stepping out of a truck on a busy highway to pick up someone else's trash. So think about that next time you decide to throw something out the car window, she added.

A lot of summer travelers are not from the Garden State. She said many people come to enjoy the best beaches in the country so we want to make sure they have a good impression of New Jersey when they visit us, Gutierrez-Scaccetti said.

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