Don’t Mess With Texas

The History and Information About the – “Don’t Mess With Texas” Quote or Slogan


The Famed Slogan

Don't Mess With Texas Cigarette Litter

Don’t Mess With Texas is a slogan created to bring awareness to and reduce littering in Texas. The program with this slogan is credited with reducing litter up to 72% on our Texas roadways! The slogan was not intended to become a state icon but over the years it most certainly has as can be seen with it being quoted all over becoming an identity statement for people in Texas and has been very well received by many Texans!

How It All Started

Don't Mess With Texas Littering Highway SignsThe history of the slogan, “Don’t Mess With Texas” – The slogan was adopted in 1985 by  Texas Department of Transportation . The TxDOT had requested bids for a catchy slogan for a litter control which was won by Ted McClure and and a group of colleagues.

The slogan initially started out as nothing more than a marketing campaign promote awareness for litter control. TxDOT voted to change the slogan from” Keep Texas Beautiful” as an attempt to appeal to the younger crowd and the “Bubba’s” who had been throwing beer cans and litter out on the side of the roadways. Although the older crowd was against this slogan, TxDOT made the decision to give it a try anyway.

Celebrities Join In

George Strait Don't Mess With TexasThe new slogan was launched as an advertisement during the Cotton Bowl that year which featured Stevie Ray Vaughan. The commercial proved to be a huge success and here forward, the slogan had no problems getting celebrities to volunteer for future ads. Great artist like Willie Nelson, George Strait and even Warren Moon jumped in to help out by filming ads for the campaign. Next, tons of bumper stickers, shirts and other memorabilia were produced. The slogan ended up even winning an award for the country’s favorite slogan even beating out national, “Got Milk?” and “Just Do It”!

This then prompted the TxDOT to launch the nation’s first Sponsor & Adopt A Highway campaign. This program would later allow companies to advertise on Texas highways (and across the nation) for funding roadside cleanup projects. The would allow companies, organizations, groups or families to place their logo and/or names on signs stretching a section of highway they agreed to keep clean of litter. Thanks to the help of this catchy slogan, Texas reported a drop in litter by 72% in its first six years!

Is It Worth The Hype & Money Spent?

Willie Nelson Don't Mess With TexasThe now famed, “Don’t Mess With Texas” awareness cost and program results. Since the program was introduced in early 1986, “Don’t Mess With Texas” has cost taxpayers $56.25 million, or an average of $1,875,000 a year, according to TxDOT records. Additionally, taxpayers spent $969.9 million, or an average of $32.33 million a year, to have TxDOT supervise the cleanup of our state’s highways, as indicated by TxDOT records. A study, conducted in 2009, shows littering in Texas has decreased but is believed to be due to a cultural change and mindset of the general population more than a cause and effect from this popular campaign. In 1987, a year after “Don’t Mess With Texas” debuted, TxDOT was recorded as spending $4 million more than the $21.9 million it had spent the year before just on litter cleanup.

For the following decade, costs for the program flattened to roughly $2 million more, less than the 1986 base. But then in 1998, litter pickup costs began a steady climb, from $25 million reaching $47.9 million in 2012. Also note that during this time, the population of Texas had also increased from 20. 2 million people to 26.1 million. In conclusion, TxDOT was spending $1.32 per Texan to collect highway litter in 1986 and $1.24 per person a decade after that. After 25 years taxpayers are paying $1.84 a person for litter removal. In 2014 the state spent $500,000 more for the campaign. Litter pickup costs dropped to $46.6 million in 2013, $35.8 million in 2014 and was at $31.8 million last year. Overall the Texas statistics show that this has been money well-spent with the program being called, “the most successful taxpayer-sponsored advertising campaign in state history”! At this point, I’d like to add the phrase, case closed!

Celebrating 30 Years

Don't Mess with Texas Trash Off 2017Don’t Mess With Texas” Turns 30 years old in August 2016. This year marks 30 years since the Texas campaign slogan was launched and it continues to still e going strong. Currently, there are several events going on statewide to remind people, “Don’t Mess With Texas” including the next “Don’t Mess with Texas” Trash-Off, which will be held on April 8, 2017.

Participates will receive a free t-shirt and all Schools will receive a promotional item (to be guaranteed your free t-shirt, you must sign up by March 10, 2017.). This has been the single largest one-day roadway cleanup effort in the state noting that last year, 2015, more than 10 million pounds of waste and recyclables were collected in just one day in 1,500 different locations with more than 85,000 volunteers attending. ­ The state is also holding “Trash & Treasure Hunts” in 25 different districts where residents have the chance to win prizes.
Participants who find litter marked with a “Don’t mess with Texas” bumper sticker will receive a prize. Prizes have been donated by partners of the campaign, including YETI, AM Racing, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, McDonald’s, Alamo Draft house Cinema, Schlitterbahn, the San Antonio Mission and others. ­ Any boy scout who participates in any of the events will earn a special honorary” Don’t mess with Texas” 30th anniversary celebration patch! ­
There was a Slogan contest for all of the Texas middle school students. More than 600 schools entered the contest. The top ten slogans will be painted on the iconic red, white and blue trash cans, and each winning school will receive its can for display and use. ­ Students in kindergarten through fifth grade were invited to submit their best litter prevention inspired artwork to be considered for the 2017 Don’t mess with Texas Calendar. ­ The State will be awarding college tuition scholarships to three Texas high school seniors each year. In May 2016, they will present one $6,000 grand prize scholarship and two $2,000 scholarships.

What can we do to help?

shelly kapitan texas home exteriors don't mess with texasSo once all of the above events are over what can you do on a day to day basis to help keep our Texas state beautiful and clean? Well you can report a litterer on the Don’t Mess With Texas Report website and fill out the simple form.  TxDot will then compare the information to the Department of Motor Vehicles registration  database. Once an exact match has been located the state will send them a letter reminding  them not to litter and a Don’t mess with Texas litter bag.

You can even download the Don’t Mess With Texas Report a Litterer app for your iPhone or Android phone to make it easier to report.   If you are a business owner you can get involved in the fight against litter by sponsoring  roadside cleanup and partnering with Don’t mess with Texas Sponsor A Highway.  Not to be confused with ­Adopt a Highway volunteer program, Texas Sponsor A Highway is a  way for Your business to receive positive recognition for your contribution to the community and  you don’t even have to lift a finger.

Littering is Against the Law

Clean Up Crew Don't Mess With TexasDid you know littering is against the law and you can be fined up to $500 for littering for
trash less than or equal to five pounds or five gallons (you may have seen this information on the blue “Don’t mess with Texas” signs). If the offense is repeated, the offender could
face a fine of up to $2,000 and 180 days in jail! If you see someone littering, here is a form where you can Report a litterer and report a littterer phone app.

Penalties under the Texas Litter Abatement Act:

Report Illegal Dumping

888-335-DUMP Report Illegal Dumping

  • Class C Misdemeanor – 5 pounds or less or a volume of 5 gallons or less.
  • Class B Misdemeanor – More than 5 pounds but less than 500 pounds or a volume of more than 5 gallons but less than 100 cubic feet.
  • Class A Misdemeanor – 500 pounds or more but less than 1,000 pounds or has a volume of 100 cubic feet or more but less than 200 cubic feet or is disposed for a commercial purpose and weighs more than 5 pounds but less than 200 pounds or has a volume more than 5 gallons but less than 200 cubic feet.
  • State Jail Felony – 1,000 pounds or more, has a volume of 200 cubic feet or more, or is disposed of for a commercial purpose and weighs 200 pounds or more, has a volume of 200 cubic feet or more, or is contained in a closed barrel or drum.
  • Upgrading Charges and Felonies  – If a person has been previously convicted of violating this Act, that person’s punishment will be upgraded to the next highest category for any subsequent violation. For example, if a person has a prior conviction of a Class A misdemeanor, that person’s punishment will be bumped up to a state jail felony the next time he/she is convicted.

Common Illegal Dumping Violations

Throwing litter out of a car or boat
Disposing of old cars by rolling them into a river, ditch or lake, etc.
Hauling trash for profit then dumping it onto land which has not been designated as a legal landfill
Allowing anyone to dump waste onto your property, whether they pay you or not
Pouring used motor oil or restaurant grease into storm drains or down manhole covers

Construction Debris

Dump Trailer - Texas Home ExteriorsWith the removal a roof, siding or windows, there is inevitably going to be construction debris which will need to be disposed of correctly. Texas Home Exteriors will take the construction debris to a landfill to dispose of correctly. As a homeowner, you may be able to screen out which companies will dispose of old building materials correctly and those who may not. This will, more often than not, be reflected in bids with lower estimated prices. In a low estimate situation, the company could very well be disposing of the construction debris from the home elsewhere in order to save money rather than paying the landfill. This may be one of the reasons the estimate is less than other companies who are disposing of construction debris from your home correctly.

This is just some of the history and information which can be found on litter control and what you can do. Texas Home Exteriors would like to give a big Texas thank you to you for doing your part to keep our Texas state clean and beautiful and please, “Don’t Mess With Texas!”

We do believe that George Strait simply says it best…


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7 Responses to Don’t Mess With Texas

  1. Ann says:

    Wonderful article. Really enjoyed reading. Lots of great info. My favorite part was the George Strait video at the end.

  2. Greg figueroa says:

    I live in Houston Texas off stuebner airline 5700 Block and I would love to have some signs put up don’t mess with Texas don’t litter and I just don’t know how to go about it

  3. Adam Sharpley says:

    This is really an amazing blog and now defines all of us Texans that like to keep our state cleen.

  4. Janet Hom says:

    Can you purchase the Don’t Mess with Texas trash cans? If so, where. Thank you!

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