This month, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will kick off "Don't mess with Texas®," the state's annual anti-litter campaign.
This year, the state's most well-known public service campaign is getting a makeover. Indeed, "Don't mess with Texas" has been re-tooled to appeal to the state's worst litterers: young adults between 16 and 34 who are often referred to as 'millennials,' many of whom weren't born when the TxDOT first rolled out its now world-famous litter prevention campaign 27 years ago.
With audiences new and old in mind, the stars of the new "Don't Mess.." campaign will be iconic red, white, and blue "Don't mess with Texas" trash barrels. In the coming months, hundreds of such barrels will appear at the state's safety rest areas, popular tourist attractions, sports venues, and other high traffic locations to remind drivers to properly dispose of the millions of pieces of litter that are now being tossed from vehicles onto Texas highways. Among the items piling up on our roads include fast food packaging, cigarette butts, candy wrappers, plastic bags, and other items.
This litter is not only ugly but expensive. TxDOT spends millions of taxpayer dollars each year to pick up trash along more than 80,000 miles of state-maintained roadways, according to TxDOT's most recent visible litter study.
Texas is home to more than 25 million people, and an estimated 1,000 people move into the state every day. They may not realize that littering is against state law, and violators can be fined up to $500 for the first offense. Repeat offenders can face fines of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail.