Littering the Environment

Don't Litter!

Littering the environment has a negative impact on our planet and damages areas where we live, work, and play. According to the JB Green Team, an environmental education program, there are ten primary sources of litter. Some of these sources directly relate to what people do while others come from manufacturing or commercial sources.

Top Ten Litter Causes
Who Does It What It Affects
Pedestrians Deliberately dropping garbage in the streets and gutters
Motorists Throwing garbage out of moving vehicles
Truck Haulers Refuse that litters public streets by unsecured loads
Households Non-secure trashcans invaded by scavengers or wind
Commerical Non-maintained dumpsters
Human Element Littering at parks
Entertainment Events Large amounts of waste, hard to control or collect
Illegal Litter that is illegal whether by the public or the commercial community
Intentional Habitual or intentional littering
Construction Sites Large refuse amounts of ignored litter

What Are The Effects of Littering the Environment?

The effects are many, environmentalists say, and include harm to our storm water systems, oceans, rivers and streams along with our wildlife. Elk and deer die in their attempts to eat plastic grocery bags left to blow away in the wind. Litter also poses a threat to our public health and is often a breeding ground for bacteria. Littering the environment can cause fires and unfortunately, sends a message that the people who litter really don't care about the earth. Above all, removing litter costs money, something we are scarce of these days.

What Can You Do to Help?

Join a group who are concerned about all sorts of litter or start one in your community. Rivers and Birds, a non-profit organization in Taos, New Mexico for students of all ages, have applied for a federal grant to help Taos recycle and rid their neighborhoods of litter and nasty plastics.

Great Tips on Fighting Litter

One eco-friendly organization, the Bioneers, are concerned about litter and offered these tips:

  • Recycle bottles, paper, cans and plastics.
  • Buy containers that are returnable such as glass.
  • Buy items that use little or no packaging. Select packaging that is biodegradable if possible.
  • Ask your school, business or church to start a litter pick-up group.
  • Try and purchase items that come in or are made from recycled containers.
  • Adopt an area and have fun with friends and family to keep it litter free.
  • Write to your local newspaper or school principal and talk about litter concerns.
  • Give employees an incentive to recycle.
  • Place ample trash containers in conspicuous places for glass, paper, and plastic.
  • Report construction sites, businesses or homeowners who have litter problems to officials in your area.
  • Most states have a litter-bug hotline; call and report violations.
  • Hold free seminars at your community center to help the public understand how litter is harming our environment.
  • Start a website in your area and advertise your website in the local paper or radio. Ask for donations to help your group pick up litter.

Is the Government Helping with Litter?

Sadly, beyond the "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute" campaign, the US government doesn't control or regulate litter from state to state. A quick Internet search of your state and litter will land you rules and ideas that are specific to where you live. Almost every state has litter laws to help keep it to a minimum. Find out what agency in your state is in charge of litter control and be proactive about litter. Write, call or email the agency if you are concerned about litter where you live. Contact your congressional and state senators to remind them litter is harmful to our environment. Unless we all get on board the litter wagon and help to fight it, littering the environment will continue.

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Littering the Environment