States and cities are deputizing their residents to report motorists who toss cigarette butts and other trash out the window, reports USA Today. Iowa and Louisville have joined the campaign in the past month by setting up littering hotlines. Someone whose license number is phoned in to the lines gets a warning letter and something else: a plastic litter bag.
At least 10 other states have call-in lines. A proposal to set one up in New Jersey is pending in the Legislature. Other local governments have jumped in, too, including San Diego County. “It’s empowering people. We make everyone an enforcer,” says Gerry Schnepf, executive director of Keep Iowa Beautiful, a private group that launched the hotline jointly with the Iowa state patrol. He says many people have “pent-up frustration” about litter and want to help. The state spends $13.5 million annually to clean up trash.