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The 'Don't Trash the 'Nati' anti-litter campaign is back

Becca Costello

Cincinnatians will start seeing a familiar phrase throughout the city again: Don’t Trash the ‘Nati. Local nonprofit Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is re-launching the anti-litter campaign that first started in 1998.

KCB Executive Director Jonathan Adee says that effort resulted in a 15% decrease in the litter index (a way to measure misplaced trash).

“The amount of litter in our city is roughly equal to 152 pieces of trash per person, so I would invite everybody to go out and pick up 152 pieces of trash,” Adee said. “Now, if nobody trashed in the future, we would no longer have a litter problem in Cincinnati. So there's also that education element.”

City officials say 70% of the complaints that come into the city involve litter or illegal dumping. Mayor Aftab Pureval says the law department is looking into ideas for stiffer penalties and better monitoring.

“No amount of penalties and monitoring is going to solve a problem that people take for granted,” he said. “And if we can drive more pride in our community, if we can create the atmosphere where it's really frowned upon to throw your trash in the streets, that's when we're going to really get to reach the tipping point and get around this thing.”

Keep Cincinnati Beautiful is dedicating $50,000 to the media campaign.

Community councils can compete to win $10,000 for beautification project dollars by reducing litter more than other neighborhoods over the next several months.

Adee says some neighborhoods are more affected by litter than others.

“We want to challenge the neighborhoods of Cincinnati,” he said. “It's not just 'Don’t Trash the ‘Nati,' it’s 'Don't Trash South Cumminsville,' it's 'Don't Trash Evanston,' it’s 'Don't Trash Walnut Hills,' it's 'Don't Trash the West End.' ”

Two other competitions are aimed at getting high school students involved. One is for a $5,000 prize for a sustainability project, and another is $5,000 for an art club that creates artwork out of trash.

The campaign re-launch is partly an outcome of the city’s litter hack-a-thon, hosted by Council Member Liz Keating.

“What we wanted to do was figure out how we can reduce litter, build neighborhood pride and bring back pride for our city,” Keating said. “This campaign was started when I was in grade school and I remember how much pride we all had walking around the school saying 'Don't Trash the ‘Nati, Don't Trash the ‘Nati!' "

More information about the contests and how to sign up is available at

Local Government Reporter with a particular focus on Cincinnati; experienced journalist in public radio and television throughout the Midwest. Enthusiastic about: civic engagement, public libraries, and urban planning.