History

‘Don’t Mess With Texas’: More Than Words

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Whether you are a Texan born and raised or just a happy transplant who got here as soon as you could, you’ve undoubtedly heard the slogan, “Don’t Mess With Texas.” It is an anti-litter campaign that was launched in 1986. Today it is the most celebrated and successful ad campaign by the Texas Department of Transportation ever. The campaign had a huge impact on littering along Texas highways and continues to be a favorite slogan of Texans and guests alike.

Spread the Word
Don't mess with Texas Coin
Photo: Authentic Texan

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the campaign. Looking back through the history of the campaign shows the true impact of this fight against litter. A large part of the campaign’s success stems from the help of fellow Texans who have spread the word about keeping our highways litter-free. From the first TV ad in 1986 featuring  Stevie Ray Vaughan to stars like Matthew McConaughey, and most recently Kevin Fowler and Jack Ingram, Texans are regularly reminded to throw trash in the proper receptacle.

According to dontmesswithtexas.org, roughly 435 million pieces of visible litter accumulate on Texas roadways each year. The most common forms of litter being food/organic material, cigarette butts, receipts, and gum wrappers. In a  survey conducted by the TxDOT in 2013, this was 34 percent less trash on roadways than was reported in 2009. Every few years, the TxDOT analyzes Texans’ attitudes and behavior toward littering and the slogan, “Don’t mess with Texas.” For complete details about the studies visit the campaign’s website. Interestingly enough, the campaign also encourages that if every person in Texas picked up just two pieces of trash every month, Texas highways would be completely litter-free in just one year.

Less Litter – More Money
Dont Mess With Texas
Photo: Flickr/txcountrygirls

Beyond the environmental impact, this renowned campaign has garnered the state of Texas a fair amount of revenue. Fines levied for littering are $500 every time you litter in Texas. Also, if what you toss weighs more than 5 pounds, you may have to pay up to $2,000. “Don’t Mess With Texas,” was copyrighted by the TxDOT, earning the department over “$143,000 in royalties since 2004,” according to Dallas News.

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