Driving through Roanoke County, it's hard to miss the scraps of newspaper, empty bottles, bags, and other trash laying in plain sight along the roads. Roanoke County Supervisor Charlotte Moore says all that litter is an eyesore that just won't go away.
"It's always going to be an issue unless we really bring the issue to people's attention," said Moore. "We need to make them aware that littering is illegal and they can be fined for it."
She says it's not just the bigger pieces of trash that are an issue, but the small ones as well -- particularly cigarette butts. And it runs deeper than simply keeping the county looking nice.
"We all know what kind of litter is being thrown into our roadways," said Moore. "Some of that litter goes into our storm systems, which could cause much bigger problems later on."
Discarded cigarette butts have also been linked to multiple fires. Since January 2012, Roanoke County Fire and Rescue has responded to five brush / mulch fires caused by cigarettes. In that same time period, 60 additional fires were caused by an "undetermined heat source" which officials say cigarettes could also be behind.
"I don't think a lot of times people purposely throw litter out," said Moore. "But it's just a bad habit. And if we can curb that habit, it's just going to add to our beautiful valley."
Tuesday, Moore and other county leaders held a special workshop to discuss strategies for combating litter at the local level. One thought is putting together a county ordinance.
"I would like to see [littering] become a civil offense with a fine and maybe some community service -- pick up litter day that a judge may implement," said Moore.
She believes a greater emphasis on awareness and education, though, will make the biggest impact. They're also looking at working with VDOT to post anti-littering signs along roadways.
These discussions are still in the early stages -- however, Moore says she'd like to be far enough along to launch an awareness campaign early next year.