Want to win $100? Want to showcase your photography skills?
All you have to do is take a REALLY TRASHY photograph and submit it to Scenic Tennessee’s annual photo contest by November 3. Students in grades 5 and up, as well as amateur and professional adults, are eligible.Normally Scenic Tennessee prefers images of outstanding scenic beauty, but not this year. This year, the nonprofit group is looking for pictures of litter, especially the discarded beer bottles, soda cans and other beverage containers that make up as much as half of all roadside trash in Tennessee. The contest is dubbed “Message in the Bottle(s),” and its ultimate goal is to restore dignity and order to the state’s roads, parks and public places.Its immediate goal is to help pass a bottle bill in Tennessee.Bottle bills–otherwise known as container-deposit legislation—are the nation’s not-so-secret weapon against litter. In the eleven states that already have them (Oregon, Iowa, Maine, Vermont, California, Michigan, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Hawaii), litter from bottles and cans dropped an average 78 percent, while overall litter dropped by almost 40 percent. At the same time, recycling rates in these states jumped to 70 percent, 80 percent, even 90 percent. Tennesseans, by contrast, recycle barely 23 percent of our empties, meaning that we throw away more 3 billion containers a year.Bottle bills work for one simple reason: money. Under legislation proposed by Rep. Russell Johnson (R-Loudon) and Sen. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Tennesseans would pay a deposit of five cents on beer, water, soft drinks, juices, teas, coffee drinks, sports drinks, mixed spirits and most other beverages up to two liters. They would get their nickel back when they return the empty container to any of hundreds of independent redemption centers and “reverse vending machines” across the state. (Most grocers, convenience stores and other retailers would be exempt from having to take back the empties.) Any unclaimed deposits would be used for a variety of public purposes, including increased funding for the popular county litter grants program. Litter grants use jail inmates to pick up roadside litter in return for a reduction in their prison time. The grants also support litter-education efforts at Keep Tennessee Beautiful affiliates across the state.In addition to increasing revenues and cleaning up the landscape, bottle bills create jobs, reduce farmers’ expenses, attract recycling industries, lower landfill costs and raise tens of thousands of dollars for schools, nonprofit groups and community causes. In the states that have such legislation, public support runs 80 percent to 90 percent. And even in the states without a bottle bill, roughly three out of four citizens say they would welcome one.“Litter is a completely nonpartisan issue,” said Marge Davis, coordinator of the Tennessee Bottle Bill Project. “People are fed up with it. And while it’s true that most of us DON’T litter, we all pay the price in cleanups and a poor public image.”Scenic Tennessee hopes the photo contest will help raise awareness of the need for a bottle bill, especially among legislators and elected officials. Images from the contest will be shown to legislators as they consider the proposed bottle bill in 2006. Winning images will also be displayed at a public reception November 13 in the Rechter Room of the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville. Student winners (grades 5-8 and grades 9-12) will receive cash prizes at the reception, while adults will receive certificates of recognition. Judges are T.K. Davis, design director of the Nashville Civic Design Center, and photographer Henry Ambrose of Franklin.... read the rest of the story by Subscribing now.