Littering is an epidemic worldwide. In the U.S., littering costs $45 billion every year. That’s an awful lot of money that could be spent on things like education, clean water, and parks instead.
And it’s one of the worst forms of behavior for the environment. It causes air pollution, water pollution, and garbage pollution. Essentially, littering is one of the worst things you can do. It’s incredibly inconsiderate, takes up unnecessary space, and is against the law. How can you stop littering? Let’s take a look at some ways to prevent it from becoming a habit in your life.
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The Easiest Way to Start
The easiest way to start is to be aware of your surroundings. When you see trash on the ground, pick it up and put it in the nearest trash can. If you see somebody littering, politely tell them not to do it. If they ignore you, let them know that they’re breaking the law and could be fined $1000 or more.
It also pays to participate in volunteer work where litter removal is necessary. This will give you a chance to see just how much garbage there really is out there and make you more conscious of picking up any litter you come across in your everyday life.
In order for these methods to work, we must all be involved in keeping our surroundings clean; we need pedestrians and drivers alike participating in good habits like recycling and picking up trash when they see it. It takes all of us working together for our environment to stay clean!
Reusable Shopping Bags
Carrying reusable shopping bags with you is a great way to prevent littering. You may not have noticed this, but people who go shopping with their own bags are less likely to litter. It's because they can easily carry their items home without the need for plastic or paper bags that will inevitably end up in a landfill.
Many single use packaging products state "Recyclable" on them, but that does not mean they actually get recycled.
I will be honest, it took me about 2 years to finally make this an unconscious habit, and I now have enough reusable totes to last me several lifetimes, but it's been a very long time since I have used a single use bag!
Make Sure You Dispose of Waste in the Correct Place
There are a number of steps you can take to make sure you don’t litter. The first would be making sure that you dispose of your waste in the proper place. This includes things like trash and food wrappers. It might seem trivial, but a lot of people think that being able to throw their trash anywhere is convenient.
But it’s far from convenient for the environment. Trash left on the ground is easily blown away by wind or pushed around by animals, which just causes more environmental damage. So, what should you do? You should always make sure that your garbage ends up in bins and other designated areas where it will be picked up and properly disposed of an incinerated.
Don’t Litter When You’re Driving
One of the most common ways people litter is by throwing things out their car window. This littering behavior not only causes a nuisance on the side of the road, it also creates dangerous driving conditions for other drivers. In fact, littering from a car can cause up to $5 billion worth of damage every year.
The best way to stop this from happening is to never throw anything out your car window while you’re driving. Remember that old saying, “Think before you toss?” It applies here too!
If you have trash in your car, never throw it out onto the ground or anywhere else that could harm another person. Instead, wait until you reach your destination and dispose of it there. I find a good rule of thumb is: if you can carry a full package out, you can surely bring your empty package back.
Walk and Talk to Your Neighbors
One great way to stop littering is by walking and talking with your neighbors. What can you do if you see a smoker who just threw their cigarette butt on the ground? You could politely suggest that they consider dropping their cigarette butts in the nearest bin.
You can also start a conversation about reducing consumption of single use materials and why it's important. Or, you could encourage your neighbors to start to recycle by providing helpful information, like how easy it is to recycle or which items can be recycled in your area.
And don’t forget about talking about how littering affects wildlife and the environment!
Get Educated About the Problem
The first step to overcoming any problem is getting educated about it. You need to know what’s causing it and why it needs to be stopped. Littering is caused by ignorance, apathy, or even convenience.
It’s important to understand the cause of your behavior so you can work on changing that behavior. For example, if you litter because you don’t care about the environment, then you need to change your mindset about the environment.
Have a Talk With Your Kids
Teaching children from an early age about the consequences of littering is one of the best ways that parents can help. For example, if a child throws a piece of trash on the ground, have them pick it up and put it in a nearby trash can before they go on their way.
When you teach your children from an early time that littering is wrong, they’ll have less of a chance to develop into chronic litterers when they get older.
Organize a Street Fair or Community Cleanup
One way to stop littering is by organizing a street fair or community cleanup. Invite your neighbors, friends, and friends’ friends for a day of cleaning up the streets and picking up litter. Make it fun!
There are so many creative things you can do like going for a walk with friends, having a picnic on the street, or inviting everyone over for dinner.
Another way to stop littering is by educating people. It’s important to talk about why it’s so bad for the environment—and on another level why it’s illegal to throw garbage on the floor in public places—to change people’s mindsets.
Share posts from reliable sources on social media and create informative conversations with your family and friends. You could also pass out flyers at schools or put up posters around town that show the consequences of littering (such as dirty air).
When you litter, you’re not just harming yourself; you’re harming the entire community. Litter can end up in rivers and streams, on beaches and in the ocean, in our communities and even on our doorsteps.
The good news is that it’s never too late to start taking some simple steps to help stop litter. The best place to start is with yourself. Begin by making a commitment to stop littering, then take some of the other actions outlined here. And don’t forget to spread the word!
Everyone has a responsibility to take care of the planet. You don't need to be a scientist or an environmentalist to do your part for the environment, and you don't need to become a hermit either.
Here are a few easy ways to leave places better than you found them by simply changing your behavior and doing small things that matter.
Its sounds idealistic, but the world would be a much better place if we all left places a little bit better than we found them. When you leave a place better than you found it, you are doing a great service to your fellow citizens and you are helping to make the world a better place for yourself.
The first step to being a better caretaker of our environment is to plan ahead. Bring reusable bags with you when shopping, or pack some snacks and water in your car so you have it on hand. You’ll find yourself less tempted to buy things at the store or get fast food if you bring your own sustenance. You’ll save money, too!
Reduce your waste
A great way to do your part for the planet is by reducing what you throw away. Things like reusing plastic water bottles, recycling materials, and composting food scraps can help reduce your waste.
If you're a coffee drinker, be sure to use reusable cups every time you go out for coffee. Use cloth bags when shopping instead of disposable bags. This will not only help the environment but it will also save some money in the process!
Make the right choices
The first step to leaving the world a better place is by making the right choices. There are many small ways you can start living in a more sustainable way, from recycling to turning off lights when you leave a room.
It's also important to reduce your waste and use less energy. Consider using reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones, only running the dishwasher when fully loaded, or turning off electronics and lights when they're not being used.
Take time to appreciate nature
Find a place that is green, like a park or the seashore and spend some time there. Enjoy the vibrant colors, fresh air, and calming sounds. Nature is embedded in our DNA and we need to be in constant contact with it. This is why many people choose to grow plants at home, but if you're not a green thumb, you might want to check out greenhouses or plant stores. Learn to appreciate the beauty of nature by learning to grow something on your own!
If you spot some trash left behind by others, or brought in by the tide, you could pick it up and leave it in the nearest litter bin. Then leave with a sense of peace knowing that you took a positive action and that you are doing your part to make your world better.
Give back to the community
For anyone who wants to get involved in charity, there are a wide range of ways to do so. You can donate money easily through a number of crowdfunding sites. Many people don't realize this, but you can even get involved in charity work through your own personal skills and talents.
If you have any kind of artistic skill, consider donating your talents to hospitals and organizations. You could even take on a small job, such as repairing a fence, to help out the community. Volunteering is a great way to give back, especially if you're looking for a creative way to spend your time!
Encouraging other people can be as simple as being friendly, giving a compliment, or helping someone with a problem. Encouraging other people can also be as big as giving them a smile, a hug, or a handshake, or helping organise a local clean up event. Encouraging other people is an important part of life and it is something that can make you feel good about yourself.
Leaving places better than you found them is a nice way to make the world a better place. To encourage this behavior, make it a point to think about how you are treating the environment, people, and your surroundings before, during, and after your stay in a place. Make an effort to leave things better than when you found them.
It is better to start young, but it is never too late to pick up the litter clean up habit. Here are some thoughts on how!
Written by Merran Van Der Tak
Retired marketing queen, lifelong smoker and full time #LitterHero.
After she retired in her late-60s, my mother-in-law started jogging every morning. There was a small woodland park behind her house with a trail along the stream. Her route took her through the park then up into “embassy row”, the part of Washington DC where many embassies and ambassadors' residences were clustered.
Shocked by the amount of litter she saw everywhere on her first jog, she took a large bag with her the next day and picked up litter as she went along – not only in the woodland but also on the streets and pedestrian areas around the embassies. The bag filled up quickly. She carried it with her until she found an appropriate place to dispose of the litter. Her daily “jog” became a stop-start clean-up exercise.
Until she was in her mid-80s and no longer mobile, she jogged every morning and always took a bag for collecting litter. Her jogging became slower as she aged – and the bag felt heavier as each year passed – but she persisted. It was pleasant when we visited, to be able to stroll in the pristine woodland. Needless to say, we helped to keep it clean.
My husband and I continued the habit when we retired to Portugal and began to walk (or, in his case, to jog) in the hills of Sintra. A bag or two for litter always went along in the back-pack. We picked up as much as we could carry as we followed the trails through the forest.
The hills here are much much bigger than the little park behind my mother-in-law's house, and our efforts here are just a drop in the bucket. But if each person carried his or her own litter home instead of dropping it, each of them would hardly notice the extra quantity or weight in their pockets. Instead, with my scrawny 45kg, I end up lugging a bag for kilometres until we reach a disposal bin.
And the trails through the hills are still full of litter. Perhaps we do not go out walking often enough. But where are all the other litter-collecting walkers?
Obviously, we cannot pick up all the building rubbish and discarded appliances which people drive into a wilderness area to dump waste. The logic of dumping waste in such a way defeats my logic. Why drive so far on rough trails – perhaps in the dark – when there are places and systems for disposing of it properly, accessible on nice paved roads? Yes, there is a charge for disposing of some items but it must be less than the cost of fuel and wear-and-tear from driving into the wilderness.
In many countries, school groups and scouts are organised (with protective gloves, proper instruction and supervision, etc.) to go out collecting litter in scenic areas. It probably beats sitting in a class-room but they are still learning something – they are often shocked by the horrible things which they find. Hopefully, it will make them think twice before they drop their litter in the future.
It might be too late to educate some of the older folks about proper disposal of litter. But, if youngsters can be taught (and enlisted to help to clean up), the next generations might be able to jog through their retirement on pristine trails without stop-start weight training at the same time.
If you believe in a globalized world that what goes around comes around, then good citizenship is a no-brainer. Here's a list of 10 things you can do right now to be a better citizen!
A web search for Good Citizenship comes up with about 5,580,000 results. My definition is simple and I try to use it to guide my decisions and day to day life. It's one of the very reasons I decided to pursue the #LitterHero ideal and put this website together! I don't always succeed, but it's a kind of way point that I can always refer back to.
Essentially, the idea is an ancient one: do to other what you would have done to yourself; in this case, I like a tidy back yard, a clean street, a pure environment enjoy and clean oceans for myself, my family and friends. To achieve these lofty goals all you or I have to do is consider other people as we go about our own lives.
You don't have to believe in karma to realise that what you do will have an impact on other people. If your impact is positive you will build good things around yourself but if your impact is negative, you will destroy and harm yourself and others. You can have your cake and eat it too, so long as you don't leave the box on the side of the road.
So here's a list of 10 things you can do right now to be a better citizen, starting from the 4th grade up.
Source Ms. Sanches Class
Cigarette filters are not as bad as nuclear waste, but they take seven years to bio-degrade. In the words of a lifelong smoker, here's how you can make a bad habit into a habit that's not so bad for the planet!
Written by Merran Van Der Tak
Retired marketing queen, lifelong smoker and full time #LitterHero
If you are a lifetime smoker, as I am, quitting can be difficult.
But it should not be difficult to see that cigarette ends are litter. Just look around the entrances to buildings (where people cannot smoke inside), or in parking areas – even in scenic places – where people have decided that their car ash-tray is full. Take a look at your own ash-tray or around the places where you usually smoke.
Cigarette filters are not as bad as nuclear waste, but they take around seven years to bio-degrade. Some of our cigarette ends might stay around longer than we older smokers do. There are cases where fish have choked to death on them - at least that stops them from getting hooked, I suppose.
Smokers already suffer social stigma. Cigarette ends everywhere just make it worse – another reason for non-smokers to think that we are low-life.
I am a heavy smoker. It is more than 40 years since I dropped a cigarette end anywhere except in a proper receptacle. If I am far from receptacles, I dispose carefully of any burning ash and residual shreds of tobacco, then the filter goes into the plastic around the lower part of the cigarette packet or even into my “butt pocket”.
No, they do not make my clothes smell, although that might depend on the brand and how carefully I remove the shreds of tobacco. For longer outings, I carry a portable ash-tray with lid – there are lots of options available, even a little plastic bag would do. These days, there are even start up companies producing pocket ashtray, I rather like these from Portuguese non profit Biataki.
If dog-walkers are required to collect their dogs' waste, why not cigarette smokers?
Cigarette ends are litter – don't drop them. Please! Instead, why not help pick them up, take a photo and share it today with the hashtag
Local events to aim to raise awareness, build community and clean up a local street, park or neighborhood. Join or start one today, get involved!
Cleanup events are one of the most powerful ways of spreading a positive message and being an actual Litter Hero. Whether an event is attended by 2 people or 200 people, the statement is clear:
"We have a litter problem here, and together we can make this part of the world cleaner".
LitterHero clean up events are design for maximum positive impact and minimum hassle. We do this by limiting numbers to around 30 people max and scheduling at a time when people with children can also attend, usually Saturdays around 10:30 am.
Another powerful driver is that we like to keep our events very short! 30 minutes of clean up time is enough for even a small group to make a big impact and also keep people of all ages engaged and more importantly, increase the desire to clean up even more!
In a nutshell, here's the secret sauce:
If you would like to host your own litter clean up events through a local #LitterHero group or on your own, here is a good article to help you get started.