Why do people feel free to throw their trash in my front yard?! At what cost are they ‘cleaning’ out their cars and throwing their trash out the car window?
I just picked up an open, empty beer can from the easement along our road. Really? Someone was driving down the road drinking that beer? AND they felt free to throw it in my yard. By what right?
I once visited a city on the east coast, driving through one of the urban areas, I noted that the entire grass median on ALL sides of the road was several LAYERS deep in trash – the ENTIRE several block area was covered! Amazing.
According to the Keep America Beautiful website people choose to litter. Younger people are more apt to litter than older ones especially when they are in groups.
Litter along roadways is generally the fault of motorists, followed by pedestrians, although some has escaped from open back trucks or blown in from elsewhere.
Why Do People Litter?
The Keep America Beautiful website claims that:
“About 85% of littering is the result of individual attitudes. Changing individual behavior is key to preventing litter. “
Missouri has a NoMOTrash website which profiles types of people with respect to littering as follows:
- “Non-litterers – environmentally conscious, don’t litter and usually pick up litter of others
- Inconvenients – too hard, too much trouble, someone else’s problem
- Ignorants – these people are simply unaware of a link between the environment and their litter behavior
- Willful Arrogants – usually litter in a context, i.e. “It’s okay to litter in urban areas but not in the country”
- Anti-establishments – make a statement with purposeful littering”
How Much Litter Is There?
In a 2 year period, Washington State picked up around 10,475 TONS of litter. Nationwide, over 51 BILLION pieces of litter are strewn about. Of that most is less than 4 inches.
On the state highway we live along, my husband does litter patrol on both sides of the highway for about ½ mile every week and picks up one to two gallon bucketfuls of trash each time!
What Kind Of Litter Is There?
Most highway litter(59 percent) is paper, 16 percent is cans, 6 percent bottles, 6 percent plastics and 13 percent miscellaneous.
Most found are fast food wrappers and cups. Second most found, believe it or not, are open and empty aluminum beer cans and third is soda cans.
But by far, the winner for most littered are cigarette butts. Along our road, hubby gets the equivalent of 2 packs of butts each time he makes a litter patrol.
How Much Does Litter Control Cost?
The West Virginia Department of Transportation estimates the annual cost of roadside litter control nationwide is $115 million.
Keep America Beautiful has a much higher cost estimate, saying:
“Litter cleanup costs the U.S. almost $11.5 billion each year, with businesses paying $9.1 billion. Governments, schools, and other organizations pick up the remainder.”
Costs for various states differ, but most are composed of paying employees or Department of Corrections crews to pick it up, costs of administering ‘adopt-A-Highway‘ programs (including providing litter bags, safety vests, picking up and disposing of the litter bags and etc) as well as picking up and disposing of large debris, such as furniture, tires and dead animals.
Yes, furniture. More people should copy the rednecks down in the Ozarks, where they have an annual couch burning bonfire/beer fest!
Washington State spends more than $3 million taxpayer dollars annual for litter control.
Missouri spends at least $5 million and would spend $1.5 million more if not for their adopt-A-Highway program volunteers. Even after years of anti litter campaign, folks are still tossing, not only in Missouri, but everywhere. However, this state has set up a website called NoMOTrash to help raise awareness of the problem.
Litter Is Bad
Come on folks, dispose of your trash appropriately. Litter is not only costly, it is bad for the environment, poses health risks, harms water quality and wildlife habitat and is associated with increased crime.
Lets face it, in addition, litter is just plain ugly – so stop littering my yard along the state highway! Stop drinking beer in the car, and certainly stop throwing away the empties along the highway!
Be proud of your country, region, state and city. Keep them clean.
Can you tell that people who litter make me steam? Why do you litter (chances are you do!)?