Hilliard is an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, which provides a variety of resources and tools to help communities end littering, promote recycling and increase community appearance.

One Keep America Beautiful tool is the "Community Appearance Index" which is also referred to as the "litter index." The purpose of the litter index is to gather data each year about the amount of litter across a community. Changes in the amount of litter over the years can be identified, and access to data can aid in efforts to change behaviors in the community.

The central part of the litter index is surveying a random selection of streets in Hilliard. Forty-four streets throughout the city have been selected as locations to be surveyed.

In most instances, particularly when a street is in a residential neighborhood, the entire length of the street is surveyed. However, for some longer streets, only a portion is surveyed in order to give a more accurate read.

Four members of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission act as surveyors, dividing into two groups to focus on a particular side of the road. The surveyors ride together in a van that is driven by someone who calls out when to start and stop surveying.

Each surveyor analyzes the amount of litter they can see on their side of the street, and gives the street a score from 1 to 4. A 1 means no litter or very minimal amount of litter is seen, whereas a 4 represents the highest amount of litter. Each surveyor writes down their scores, and after the survey is complete, the four scores for each street are averaged for a final score.

The first litter index was compiled in March 2018, and it took approximately three hours to complete. The overall score for the 44 streets was a 1.14, which is considered to be favorable. The majority of streets received a score of 1, although a few streets did score a 2 or a 3.

Hilliard recently completed its second litter index. The overall average score rose slightly this year to 1.34. However, most streets still received individual scores of 1.

Although the survey has identified the occasional neighborhood street with more than a minimal amount of litter, over the past two years, it has become apparent that some of the more littered areas of Hilliard are the major commercial corridors, as well as streets where residential construction is taking place.

In general, the most common type of litter is drink and food containers.

The ESC will post the comparative results of the litter index on gogreenhilliard.com, so be sure to check there for more information.

Beverly Marsh is secretary of the Hilliard Environmental Sustainability Commission, which is an advisory commission to Hilliard City Council.