Low Down on Litter

Low Down on Litter1The City of Manassas is not alone in facing litter problems. Research shows that every U.S. state and many countries have implemented programs to address the many factors contributing to litter. The programs share common approaches, including physical clean-ups by government and volunteer organizations, effective enforcement, community involvement, enhanced legislation, and public education programs.

Litter results in significant economic, social, and environmental costs. It is aesthetically displeasing, presents a range of threats to human and ecologic health, and affects the quality of life for the citizens in the City.

Litter increases the risk of fire, personal injury, the spread of diseases, pollutes waterways, and threatens wildlife. The impacts are real, the issue is genuine, and litter is increasingly being recognized as an issue of concern with citizens.

Low Down on Litter2Litter: noun | lit·ter | ‘li-tr
Litter is deposited on land or in waterways if it is placed, put, left, dropped, thrown; or, is allowed to fall there or be blown from a moving motorized vehicle or trailer.

  • All trash, cigarette butts, refuse, junk, garbage, and scrap;
  • Any articles or material deposited within the right of way, intentionally or unintentionally;
  • Any article or material abandoned by the owner or the person in possession thereof.

Who litters?
With respect to litter, there are five definition types of people:

  • “Non-litterers” – are environmentally conscious, don’t litter, and usually pick up the litter from others.
  • “Inconvenients” – believe that disposing of litter correctly is too hard, too much trouble, or someone else’s problem.
  • “Don’t knows” – are simply unaware of a link between the environment and their litter behavior.
  • “Don’t cares” – usually litter in context, i.e., “It’s okay to litter in urban areas but not in the country.”
  • “Anti-establishments” – make a statement with purposeful littering. 

Where does littering occur?

  • Streets and curbs
  • Storm drains
  • Vehicle stopping locations
  • Parks, trails, playgrounds and athletic fields
  • High traffic walking paths to/from schools, local convenience and fast food stores
  • Community common areas
  • Parking lots and laybys
  • Wooded areas between communities

Low Down on Litter3Why does litter happen?
People litter for any number of reasons, they:

  • are too lazy to dispose of trash properly;
  • are more likely to throw litter on top of litter than drop it in neat surroundings;
  • just don’t care;
  • believe others will pick it up;
  • may not be aware they are littering.

Low Down on Litter4What are the Primary Sources of Litter?

  • Trucks with uncovered or improperly covered loads
  • Illegal dumping
  • Drivers
  • Pedestrians
  • Construction or demolition debris
  • Household garbage
  • Overflowing Commercial dumpsters and trash receptacles

When does litter happen?
Litter is often directly related to a specific type of activity being undertaken, such as walking to/from school, attending a sporting activity, working at a building site, driving to/from work, eating lunch in the park. Smokers, who may not ordinarily intentionally litter, frequently discard cigarette butts onto the ground from moving vehicles or while walking.

How does littering happen?
Littering happens when items are thrown, dropped and flicked as people drive or walk by. According to Keep America Beautiful, virtually all litter (97% found at transition areas are small items. Confection litter (candy, chocolate, gum, etc.) is most predominant at 53.7%, and tobacco products second at 29.8%.

Low Down on Litter5
“Leave the world better than you found it.”

Robert Baden-Powell

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