MEMPHIS, Tenn.– As illegal trash dumping and litter pile up along Memphis and Shelby County roadways, it’s proving once again that one person’s trash can become another person’s, or in this case, an entire community’s problem.

Discarded plastic, Styrofoam, water bottles, old tires, and mattresses are causing an unsightly and expensive problem for Memphis with taxpayers left footing the bill to clean it up. 

“We spend about $20 million statewide on litter and over a million dollars of that is in Memphis,” said Michael Welch, the Tennessee Department of Transportation Director of Operations. “So, a lot of money, a lot of efforts, and a lot of resources.”

It’s a lot of resources and an unattractive mess.

Missy Marshall, the executive director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful, said this is not the welcome mat that should greet tourists.

“The second largest industry in the state is tourism and a lot of people come from around the world to Memphis to see it and we need to make sure it’s clean and inviting,” Marshall said.

Crews trimming trees and removing litter is part of what’s called Ramp It Up.

TDOT, the City of Memphis, Shelby County, Memphis City Beautiful, Clean Memphis, and Keep Tennessee Beautiful have teamed up for a series of litter clean-up events.

They’re targeting I-40 at Danny Thomas Boulevard, I-240 at Crump/Lamar, I-55 at Brooks, and I-240 at Poplar Avenue.

“This morning we picked up about thirty bags of trash at Lamar and 240,” Welch said.

It’s part of a massive cleanup effort turning trashy eye sores in Memphis and Shelby County into a sight for sore eyes.

“Love your city, take pride in your city. If you see litter, it’s not someone else’s job to pick it up and do your part and put waste in its proper place,” Marshall said.  

More than 200 volunteers assisted in Thursday’s Ramp It Up cleanup event throughout Memphis and Shelby County.