How clean is your neighborhood? Check the "litter index"

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - How clean is your neighborhood? There's a tool called the "litter index" that goes street by street to find out.

Jon and Nancy Harrel love walking their dogs through the parks in Old Northeast Kansas City. But all the trash they see is disappointing.

"It's just as easy to hang onto your trash and throw it away in a trash can or to find a trash can as it is to toss it," Jon Harrel said. "I just don't understand it."

Out of 34 zones divided up in Kansas City, the Old Northeast comes back as the most littered.

Keep Kansas City Beautiful and Bridging the Gap are the organizations gathering data for the litter index every year.

Teams of four drive on randomly-selected blocks throughout the city, ranking each block on a scale of one to four.

"One indicates that there's no litter present on that block," program manager Kate Becker said. "And four is extremely littered."

The current city-wide average is around 1.5.

"Which means we're not very littered. But when you realize it's an average, there are certainly some segments that do get threes or fours," Becker said.

The city of Kansas City and nonprofit organizations target the trouble spots for clean ups.

The litter index also keeps Kansas City in compliance with the national program, "Keep America Beautiful," which pays for improvements like dozens of trees planted in an east side neighborhood.

Volunteers for this year's trash index will hit the streets on March 23. To find out how to get involved, go to www.bridgingthegap.org

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