AUSTIN – Showing how even the smallest trash can add up to a very big mess, the Texas Department of Transportation today hosted an event on the Capitol lawn to launch several new public service announcements as part of its iconic “Don’t mess with Texas” anti-litter campaign. The first round of PSAs will feature TxDOT Executive Director LtGen Joe Weber, USMC (Ret), with subsequent announcements showcasing the sounds of country music legend Willie Nelson.
“As a proud Texan, I wanted to be out there letting people know that I don’t take kindly to people trashing my great state,” said LtGen Weber. “The amount of roadway litter we’re picking up comes at a great cost to Texans and it’s simply unacceptable. If everyone who travels our roadways did the right thing by throwing litter in trash cans instead of tossing it out their windows, we could save millions of dollars that could be channeled to other important needs.”
“The ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ campaign plays an important role in our state by reminding everyone that it takes all Texans to prevent litter along our roadsides,” added Texas Transportation Commissioner Jeff Austin III. “Our state is known for its wide-open spaces and beautiful landscapes, and we don’t want that marred by trash. Let’s all do our part to keep Texas not only a great place to work, but a great place to live.”
The anti-litter campaign also will feature new television and digital PSA spots that show a small, seemingly harmless ball of trash tossed from the window of a pickup truck traveling a country road. As Willie Nelson croons “Beautiful Texas,” the little ball of trash rolls like a West Texas tumbleweed, growing larger and larger as it moves through fields of bluebonnets, small town main streets and across the many beautiful landscapes of Texas. Finally, the ball of trash grows into a huge, menacing sphere that rumbles across Austin’s Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge and onto the Capitol lawn.
Joining Nelson in the campaign will be a host of celebrities taking “selfies” while wearing “Don’t mess with Texas” T-shirts and then posting on their far-reaching social media channels. Dude Perfect and Austin Wayne Self were the first two celebrities to throw their social media voices behind the “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign. More than 20 other celebrities have committed to joining in the coming weeks. Additionally, TxDOT invites all Texans to share “selfie” photos and videos of their efforts to support “Don’t mess with Texas” anti-litter efforts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube using the hashtag #dontmesswithtexas.
Nearly a half-billion pieces of visible litter pile up along state-maintained highways each year, costing taxpayers $35 million to clean up. Small trash, including napkins, fast food wrappers and cigarette butts make up 70 percent of the litter found along Texas roads.
With the state’s population rapidly growing, the “Don’t mess with Texas” campaign reminds new and long-time Texans that littering not only is unsightly, but also is unlawful. Fines for littering range from $500 to $2,000.