South Carolina tops list of dirtiest states in the nation

WASHINGTON (WCIV) A new study by a nonprofit anti-litter group says that South Carolina is the dirtiest state in the nation. The rating is based on litter, recycling legislation, and state waste disposal.

Among the beautiful places and smiling faces in South Carolina, litter is still finding a space to call home. A nonprofit called the National Anti-Litter Group released the 2014 American State Litter Score card, putting South Carolina at the bottom as the dirtiest state in the Nation.

"We do see plastic bags as they blow around, a lot of the airborne litter which we like to think of as accidental litter. Maybe it blew out of your car when you were driving," said Jennifer Scales, the program manager for Keep Charleston Beautiful.

She says one specific item is still being found in Charleston streets.

"Cigarette butts are the No. 1 most-littered item. They're little so people don't always think about them, but they're everywhere so that's an ongoing issue," said Scales.

Scales says because Charleston is a tourism destination, the Holy City has more eyes on it, and the Lowcounty landscape creates its own litter problems.

"We have a lot of marshes and marshes are Velcro for litter. And that's why we do a lot of marsh clean-ups. Once the litter hits there, it stays there. It doesn't just keep moving down," said Scales.

Scales says Charleston has improved with random litter like tires, but partnerships with other clean-up organizations like Adopt-A-Highway are making a difference.

"Overall litter has gone down in the last 10 years by 59 percent for our state alone. I feel like people are more cognizant of it, but there are still people that are going to litter. And we just don't have resources as far as our state and local government to clean up," said Angela Crouch, Charleston County's coordinator for Adopt-A-Highway.

She says people in Charleston County are more aware and careful not to litter than other parts of the state.

"Clean communities are safe communities, and I think here especially people realize that tourism is so important to economic development around here that they don't want a place that's not clean," said Crouch.

Washington State and California top the cleanest in the nation. Nevada and Indiana follow the Palmetto State and round out the bottom three dirtiest states.