Don’t Be a Litterbug and Don’t Mess With Texas are two of the vintage slogans I remember from the good old days. We’ve come a long way, baby (that’s another one), and we really have evolved. The Don’t Mess With Texas littering campaign started in 1986, coincidentally the same year as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Program and the national seat belt law.

The website, dontmesswithtexas.org is a fantastic website where you can order free merchandise and where you can also anonymously report a litterbug. There are only three things that you can litter with in Texas, legally. They are ice, water and chicken feathers. I always thought something biodegradable, such as an apple core or a banana peel, were okay to discard. But, apparently, the problem is not so much the issue of biodegrading, but the attraction of animals. An animal may go onto the road to check out something that it sees as a potential food item, and could be hit by a passing car. But the real problem is, some people will swerve to avoid hitting an animal and injure or possibly kill themselves. Mostly women, because we have feelings (I just added that, but it’s probably true).

Littering fines are steep. I met a 17 year old young man who received a hefty fine for throwing a cigarette butt out of his car window. And the Judge made him take a six hour defensive driving class, that was in addition to paying the fine. Perhaps he had to take a class because he wasn’t 18, the legal age to purchase cigarettes in Texas. I had an adorable bumper sticker that I ordered from the Don’t Mess With Texas website that said “Keep Your Butts In The Car.” I felt sorry for the poor guy. So I gave him my bumper sticker for having a good attitude about it. I’m sure he didn’t stick it on his car. He probably rolled it up and smoked it. Who knows what he did with it?

Texans can also submit artwork for the annual Don’t Mess With Texas litter bag contest. The woman who won the contest in January is a talented little artist from McKinney, Texas. The website also offers information about littering fines, statistics, a little bit of Texas history and some great links to other Texas websites such as Texas Highways Magazine and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Check out the website. You’ll be glad you did. And share the love.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Don’t Mess With Texas – Comedy Defensive Driving