About two weeks ago, Louisiana came last in the U.S. News & World Report state rankings. Honestly, it’s disappointing but not surprising.

Every aspect of our state is run-down and needs serious improvement, especially Louisiana’s environmental quality and excess energy usage. According to the rankings, Louisiana placed 49 in Natural Environment and 39 in Energy. In the Renewable Energy Usage sub-category, Louisiana came in 49th. This is awful especially since we live in a state with a disappearing coastline peppered with  swamps and wildlife.

Louisiana has the potential to be a leading state in environmental conservation and renewable energy usage, but people don’t seem to care enough about the state to educate themselves on the topic.

Just driving down the interstate or highway, drivers can see loads of litter and abandoned items in the medians or on the sides of the roads. Why are we so trashy?

According to Keep Louisiana Beautiful, about $40 million in taxpayer dollars is spent each year in Louisiana on litter removal, abatement, education and enforcement. That’s a large sum of cash that could be used for public schools or roads if we all just cleaned up after ourselves.

According to Keep Louisiana Beautiful, 81 percent of litter is intentional. Motorists and pedestrians produce 70 percent of roadside litter, while 16 percent of the litter comes from irresponsible drivers who don’t secure their cargo correctly. Nearly 99 percent of litter in parks and playgrounds come from pedestrians.

It is as simple as walking to the nearest trash can or waiting until you reach your destination to throw away your trash. Louisianians could at least go to their local landfill to dump their mattresses or pieces of wasted furniture if they can’t resell them. We are destroying our state, and we have to be aware of it before we can being to fix it.

According to the Louisiana Office of Tourism, Louisiana generated over $1 billion in state tax revenue from travel and tourism activities in 2016.

The amount of money generated is amazing for our state, chiefly since it creates jobs. Be that as it may, what would our state do if the number of tourists decreased due to the trashiness of our state? There won’t be anything else left to visit or sight see, because we aren’t taking care of our state or environment. We would be in more of a financial bind than we already are.

Louisiana also needs to start using more renewable energy. Since our state produces copious amounts of petroleum, coal and more, we consume copious amounts of these resources. Instead of consuming these, we need to use renewable energy like solar panels or wind turbines, which are far and few between in our state.

Louisiana receives a great amount of sunshine, even more so during the summer. Imagine if our state decided to install solar panels in large, remote designated areas or on government building roofs. We would save heaps of energy and money in the long run, while helping our state’s natural environment.

It all boils down to the respect we have for ourselves, our state and our environment. Our state has the potential to be so much more efficient and beautiful. We need to clean up after ourselves and go the extra mile to better our communities.

Abigail Varnado is a 21-year-old English senior from Amite, Louisiana.

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