The city of Opelika launched its “Don’t Be An Ope-loser!” campaign this month to encourage community members to clean up trash and discourage everyone from littering.
The beautification campaign introduced brightly painted trash cans throughout the city, some with taunting messages attached to discourage residents from littering such as “You can’t afford to be trashy … $500 fine,” “Keep your trash to yourself,” and “Pick up your trash, we ain’t your momma!”
“As a part of the campaign, we are asking that if you see trash on the ground, pick it up,” Opelika Community Relations Officer Leigh Krehling said. “It is a matter of civic pride to keep Opelika clean and beautiful. We need our community to be part of the solution, not the problem.”
Krehling said the idea for the campaign began through a brainstorming process with city leaders to find a way to address the growing litter problem ever since the pandemic halted Lee County inmates’ ability to clean up trash around town.
“The first thought bubble that came to us was, ‘Only losers litter,’ so that’s where Ope-loser came from,” Krehling said. “We just came up with more thought bubbles after that. Some are bold, some are sassy, some are fun and some are pretty straight-forward, but it’s all in an effort to raise awareness about litter.”
The 11 decorative trash cans placed around different parts of Opelika were hand-painted by city staff and are purely decorative and used to advertise the campaign, so citizens should throw away their trash in any of the city’s other trash receptacles, Krehling said.
With the exception of one person on social media who didn’t like being called a loser, Krehling said the vast majority of responses from the community have been overwhelming positive of the new initiative, with some asking why it doesn’t last longer than a month.
“People think it’s fun, and several people have said they wished we would continue it throughout the year and have cans all over town,” Krehling said. “Who knows what might happen? Maybe [the campaign] will grow.”
The anti-littering initiative will culminate in the “Slam Dunk The Junk” community clean-up event April 24 at the Covington Recreation Center at 9 a.m. where Keep Opelika Beautiful will give participants supplies and locations to pick up trash and litter in order to give back to the community.
A free-throw and slam dunk competition will be held at the recreation center at 11:30 a.m. after the community clean-up where participants can eat food and win prizes, including a basketball signed by Bruce Pearl. Registration for the event is on the city’s website.
“Litter continues to be a huge issue in Opelika,” Mayor Gary Fuller said. “It’s sad to look around our city and see trash along the roadways, in parking lots and in our creeks. Litter is harmful to human health, safety, welfare, the environment and it has a negative effect on economic development.”