Show Us Your Trash

Discarded fishing line is an especially harmful form of trash. Shore birds frequently become entangled in discarded fishing line. (Photo: Richard Simms)

The Tennessee Wildlife Federation wants your litter pictures. Whether it’s in the woods, on the lake, along a river, or by the road, send the Federation your snapshots of the cans, bottles and outright trash that make our great outdoors a little less great.

Obviously the companies would like to prevent it, but all too often a byproduct of fast food is fast trash. (Photo: Richard Simms)

To submit your photos and help raise awareness of Tennessee’s litter problem, visit

“With the unofficial start of summer, we want Tennesseans to take and share photos of all the litter they see when they are outdoors,” said Mike Butler, CEO of Tennessee Wildlife Federation. “Litter is such a big and old problem that we’ve all become blind to how much of it there is in our lives every day.”

Litter is more than an eyesore. It has real, measurable effects on Tennesseans and the state’s wildlife, water, and wild places.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation estimates there are 100 million pieces of litter on Tennessee’s roads at any given moment and that 18 percent of it will end up in waterways. The Tennessee Valley Authority removed 230 tons of trash from the Tennessee River in 2018.

Fishermen are supposed to care about the environment. But when you look at the leftover bait boxes bank fishermen leave along the Tennessee River, that’s hard to believe. (Photo: Richard Simms)

Studies regularly uncover new impacts to wildlife and habitats. For example, after decades of litter that sinks in water—glass, cans, and heavier plastics, such as those used for drink bottles—the beds of our lakes and rivers are fouled, potentially impacting important habitat for native fish.

Litter costs Tennesseans millions of dollars each year to clean up and costs others even more. Farmers suffer an estimated loss of $60 million a year and litter stunts the outdoor industry, which generates $21.6 billion in economic activity for the state.

“We must make ourselves see the extent of the problem—for the economy and the environment—that’s in front of us every day. Until we do, it’s not likely we’ll get serious about finding an effective solution,” said Butler.

Go to and share your photos. And then please pick up the trash.

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Richard Simms is a professional journalist and fishing guide in Chattanooga. (See He is also a former wildlife officer for TWRA, a book author and a self-proclaimed "River Rat" with a sincere desire for spreading the message about our bountiful natural resources and the people charged with using, or protecting them.


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