ENVIRONMENT

Cleaning up Utah is South Jordan man’s mission

Apr 5, 2024, 6:28 PM | Updated: 9:33 pm

SOUTH JORDAN — You can’t help but see beautiful views as you drive on Utah roads. The mountains, red rock, desert, and even the Salt Flats are a photographer’s dream.

Lately, though, Taylor Jensen sees something else.

“And once you start to see it, it is all that you see. It is everywhere,” he said.

Jensen is talking about garbage. Plastic bottles, tires, paper, and all sorts of trash just piled up along the sides of roads, highways, and especially the interstates.

“I am a carpenter and I spend a lot of time driving up and down our highways and I just notice how much trash there is all over the place,” said Jensen, who lives in South Jordan. “I was like, I got to do something.”

So, Jensen started picking the trash up on his own time.

He even got his brother Blake to help him. They fill dozens of garbage bags whenever they go out.

When Jensen started posting videos online a couple of months ago under the name “DoBetterUtah,” that is when the awareness he was hoping to raise took off.

“The response has been outstanding,” Jensen said. “I have had a lot of good support from community members. A lot of people reaching out saying that they had no idea the trash was this bad.”

Jensen says he has recently spoken with the Utah Division of Transportation, his state legislator, and even the Governor’s Office hoping the state can fund a dedicated team for trash removal.

“It is an issue that we care deeply about. We want to make sure that Utah remains a place that we can all be proud of,” UDOT communications director John Gleason said.

Gleason says, currently, the state budgets about $2 million for its maintenance crews that oversee trash cleanup, which includes animal carcass removal.

However, the trash issue alone is one Gleason said is getting more attention lately.

“I think over the last couple of years, we have seen the issue getting even worse. It is something that has been on our radar,” Gleason said.

Gleason also said the state is planning to announce a new program later this month or next month that involves keeping Utah cleaner.

“You can appreciate the passion that people have and this gentleman in particular,” Gleason said about Jensen. “We look forward to working with him to see what solutions we can come up.”

Jensen just hopes something is done soon.

He feels those views are worth it.

“We need to do something now so our children won’t have this mess to clean up,” Jensen said. “I love Utah and I can’t stand to see it like this.”

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Cleaning up Utah is South Jordan man’s mission