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!