Community leaders around the state will put on their gloves, pick up a garbage bag and start cleaning up litter that is a problem not only in Louisiana, but around the country.

At the request of Keep Louisiana Beautiful, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne sent out 1,500 letters to community leaders around the state to join in the “Leaders Against Litter” campaign on the morning of March 13, said Susan Russell, executive director of Keep Louisiana Beautiful.

This second year of the event, which organizers say they plan to make an annual gathering, is meant to raise awareness about the litter problem in the state and to get public leaders involved in the solution.

“The premise is to really engage the leadership across the state,” Russell said.

Volunteer community leaders and others will spend the morning picking up trash in areas around the state, followed by a news conference in the afternoon in Baton Rouge to announce the result. The news conference also will serve as a way to announce the start of the Great American Cleanup that runs from March to May.

As part of the national cleanup, Keep Louisiana Beautiful groups around the state will hold trash pickups from roads, waterways and parks, and beautify public areas with fresh paint, including the removal of graffiti.

A 2009 report from Keep American Beautiful says the cost of cleaning up litter in the United States tops $11 billion a year with businesses paying for about 80 percent.

Keep Louisiana Beautiful did a similar study several years ago and found that just in the state, the cleanup cost topped $40 million a year, Russell said.

There are additional costs that include lower property values, diminished water quality, habitat impairment and less tourism money, she said.

“It’s that big picture that people don’t connect to,” Russell said. “There’s a sense that it’s someone else’s job to bend down and pick it up.”

The awareness event on March 13 is just one effort to help raise that awareness among leaders and the general community.

“People are missing that personal connection,” Russell said.

Follow Amy Wold on Twitter, @awold10.