The global litter problem is massive and can seem overwhelming - but tackling it is not nearly as difficult as it seems. We have broken down the litter problem into simple items that anyone can act on, locally.
The single easiest way to tackle the litter problem is to produce less waste in the first place. The number one source of litter is waste packaging. There are a number of ways to reduce the waste you generate but the simplest one of all is to consume less.
The next best thing is to choose products that have minimal packaging of a recyclable or biodegradable nature. Which ever method of litter prevention suits you best, it will work even better of you can bring friends and family on board!
Spread the word and share your reasons for preventing litter, you will be making a change and spreading change by changing mindsets and paradigms. Below are two ways to move forward.
While the easiest, simplest and most powerful, way to reduce waste and litter is to prevent it in the first place, there is so much litter already in our environment that we need to take direct action to clean it up!
You don't need to organise or take part in massive actions - although they are great for raising awareness. Even the smallest actions add up to a massive positive change, not just from the litter you remove, but because other people get inspired by your actions.
From time to time, as I walk about town I spot a discarded box or wrapper and just pick it up and drop it in the nearest bin, but it's safer, more hygienic and highly recommended to use the right tools to make the job, quick fun and much easier.
Here are our suggested Litter Hero clean up tools, with affiliate links, so if you click to buy any of the suggested tools, LitterHero may earn a small commission!
Aren't plastic bags part of the litter problem?? Yes they are, but my pragmatic choice has been to remove litter that is in the environment and place it into the municipal waste stream instead.
Is it even worth getting started on local litter clean up activities when globally, mounting trash is such a massive problem? Yes it is, and here's why:
At times we are bombarded with so many negative statistics, articles, videos and comments relating to the state of the plante, that it all seems just too overwhelming. It happens to me often, but then I think "every single piece of litter on the street, in the forest and in the ocean was put there by someone not entirely unlike me. The same way it got there, it can be retrieved - piece by piece."
Is there a lot of work to be done? Certainly. Is it worth the time and effort? Unquestionably. This is our planet, our home, our street and our own back yard. It's easy to post angry and frustrated comments on social media, but ultimately it's up to you and me to take action to make things better.
The great news is that if even a few people start taking direct action such as joining local clean up initiatives, talking to and pressuring municipalities and telling their friends and family that every one of us can have an immediate and direct impact, then we can effect change on a Global scale. It all starts with me & you!
Wikipedia defines this as when one properly fulfills his or her role as a citizen. There are many opinions as to what constitutes a good citizen. Theodore Roosevelt said, "The first requisite of a good citizen ... is that he shall be able and willing to pull his weight." A great way to do that is to get involved with your local community.
Why focus on litter when there are so many even more pressing environmental concerns? It's a great question. One of the reasons I have chose to focus on litter is that I feel it's something so very easy to control, without even changing our lifestyle, just our habits, and if we are persuasive, the habits of our friends and family too. But it goes beyond the local manifestations of piled up kerb side trash; if we no longer accept such sights, we start to grow more aware of our surroundings and our impact on our environment, natural and man-made. Then we can start to shift our current paradigm and all live with more quality and abundance.
Mattresses take up a good amount of space in your home, and unfortunately, in the landfill. However, when it’s time for a new one, these large home products don’t need to become unsightly waste - Find out how!
Written by Sarah Johnson
Zero Waste Advocate working for Tuck, a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources.
You have options that will keep your mattress out of the landfill. With a two-fold approach to reduce waste and buy environmentally-friendly mattresses, you can make a difference.
1. Donate the Old
Many national and local charity or thrift organizations accept mattress donations. Be sure your mattress is stain, tear, and odor free. If you live in an area with bed bugs, mattress donations may not be accepted. To save yourself the hassle of loading and hauling your mattress, call ahead to make sure it will be accepted. Do NOT leave your old mattress behind a charity store after hours. You may be leaving them with the problem of disposal and most likely it will end up in the landfill.
2. Look Up Recycling Facilities
The parts and components of many different types of mattresses can be recycled. For example:
3. Think Outside the Box
Mattresses are full of components, from braiding and buttons to nails and screws that can be used for other projects. Innersprings can be used to make wreaths or transformed into a picture holding room divider. Memory foam can be used to make a dog bed or chair cushions. Wood slats come in handy for all kinds of home projects. If you’re up to dismantling the mattress yourself, with a little creativity, you can probably use most of the components around your home.
4. Choose an Environmentally-Friendly Mattress
The truth is that there’s no mattress that’s 100 percent green, organic, or environmentally friendly, but there are some that come close. All-natural latex mattresses are derived from the sap of the rubber tree. After the sap goes through a series of manufacturing processes, it makes a mattress that’s both durable and comfortable. These mattresses are biodegradable, leaving behind a white residue.
However, latex mattresses can be expensive. If you need something more affordable, look for mattresses made with organic components through environmentally-friendly practices. Organic cotton and/or wool covers, plant-based foams, and fire socks instead of chemical flame retardants produce less waste and make disposal easier.
To help you find an environmentally-friendly mattress, look for certifications from independent organizations that monitor environmental impact like:
A mattress doesn’t have to become waste. With a few phone calls and research, you can dispose of the old and find a new one that will cut down on your environmental footprint.
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.
The #LitterBike concept is all about putting litter in the bin and the fun between your legs! If you commute by bike it's even easier! Here's how to get started.
This is concept is ideally suited to a city, touring or hybrid bicycle with a rear rack! All you need is a pannier or light weight trash bin, a bin bag and a litter picker.
Step 1 - fix your pannier or bin to the rear rack.
Step 2 - Line your pannier or bin with a bin bag.
Step 3 - Get picking!
Step 4 - Snap a photo and share with with the tag #LitterHero and #LitterBike!
If you like this idea and want to get involved or to start sharing your own LitterBike actions, get in touch!
The single easiest way to be a Litter Hero is to simply reduce the amount of waste material you generate every day. Here are a few easy ideas to get started.
A quick web search for "How to reduce waste at home" comes up with about 203,000,000 results, so there is plenty of material out there! Before getting into the literature, it's very helpful to keep in mind the 5 R's of Waste Management:
You can find some more helpful information on Zero Waste initiatives and lifestyle in our Resources section. And you can always get in touch to share your own ideas and experiences!
You're feeling motivated to get out there with some friends and finally clean up that trashed spot that has been bothering you for months. Here are 7 key ways to organise a great local litter clean up event.
Picking up a bag and litter picker to grab some trash off your street is a great feel good activity but to really spread the message, nothing beats a local litter clean up event. To make sure you make it a great occasion for all involved, here are 7 Keys for a Successful Cleanup event:
1) Be willing to do the activity alone, and enjoy it!
2) Post your event publicly or invite specific people. You can use the LitterHero events calendar to share your event. Make the time, place, duration and equipment required explicitly clear to everyone you tell about it.
3) INVITE people. Don’t coerce, try to sell it to them, or overly control their participation. When invited, most people will bring something to the clean up effort that really makes really work.
4) Keep it simple. Cleaning up trash is easy. All you need are garbage bags, places to put the trash, and gloves (rakes and shovels can’t hurt either!) Tell potential participants that these are the raw materials, but bring enough yourself to cover half-a-dozen people who come without .
5) Have fun doing it. After all, you and everyone else will be actively making the world a better place… really. MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE! (this is what inspires me, and probably you, and probably most people who do things like this).
6) Tell lots of people, including the press. Just call them up and tell them what, when, where you are doing what you are doing. Even if you wind up alone out there, you will still peak interest, and people may want to join you next time. Forward chunks of the press release to any news organizations you contact (having something written that can be “cut and pasted” can increase likelihood of publication).
finally–and probably most important–
7) Remind people and yourself that what you are doing matters by telling incidents and specifics about how it matters to you. Just the simple truth will inspire others. You can talk about what you have done to date, and the people you met along the way.
Once people experience their own daily ability to make a difference, they will probably keep it up on their own - and maybe do even do a project in their neck of the woods…
If it is easy enough for you, bring some food treats for other participants as a surprise. Maybe cookies or little chocolates or something– cheap and easy is my motto on this. You can always go for coffee afterward if that works better too…