THE IMPACT OF AMERICAN LITTERING*

COSTS OF LITTER ARE CONSIDERABLE

  1. Cleanup costs:  The U.S. spends almost $11.5 billion yearly.  Businesses pay $9.1 billion of this.2
  2. Decreased property values: 7% decrease according to the National Association of Home Builders.3
  3. Decreased local jobs:  36% of business development officials say litter impacts decisions to locate to a community.3
  4. Lost revenue:  Litter deters a customer from entering a business.  It also results in lost tourism, cost to human health, wildlife injury, and expenses to restore ecosystems and repair vehicles and boats.

 

LITTER HAS TERRIBLE ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCES

  1. Neighborhood impacts: Traffic, animals, wind and rain move litter into gutters, landscaped areas, alleyways and parking structures.
  2. Ocean impacts:  Trash is carried by storm drains into local waterways and eventually into one of the 5 ocean garbage patches, the most famous being twice the size of Texas.4
  3. Critter impacts:  Birds and animals eat plastic and Styrofoam food-covered containers.  Fish and plankton eat plastic particles.  220 pounds of trash was found in the stomach of a beached 26-ton starving sperm whale, including fishing nets, ropes, and plastic cups and bags.5  Microplastics can be transmitted through breast milk.6

 

INTERESTING LITTER FACTS

  • 51 billion+ pieces of litter are released on American roadways each year - 6,729 items per mile of roadway annually, 91% of it less than 4 inches in size.2
  • By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.7  Microplastic particles exist in snow from the Alps to the Arctic.8
  • The most common litter is food/organic material, cigarette butts, and small pieces of paper (receipts, gum wrappers).9
  • Republic Services, our recycling program, runs a crew to help pick up litter in neighborhoods.
  • Several city departments work to prevent litter in our parks, streets, rights-of-way and neighborhoods.
  • Arlington’s Environmental Programs have an annual budget of approximately $100,000 for solid waste and recycling education and special litter-oriented programs.
  • Two out of three Americans would be willing to pay more for products made out of environmentally sustainable materials to avoid single-use plastics products and help save the planet.10

 

WHAT YOU CAN DO

    • Don’t litter. Encourage others not to litter, e.g., suggest keeping light items out of the bed of your truck.
    • Avoid potential trash.  Carry reusable bags and containers in your car to avoid single-use plastics.
    • Pick up trash when you walk and encourage others to pick up trash also.
  • Talk about it.  90% of parents told their children not to litter.  97% would pay more attention to littering if their children asked them to.  Only 32% of parents say their child has talked to them about littering.9

References

  1. The 2009 National Visible Litter Study and Litter Cost Study was prepared by MidAtlantic Solid Waste Consultants for Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
  2. https://hampton.gov/958/Keep-America-Beautiful-Litter-Research
  3. http://www.lagrange-ga.org/Home/Anti_Litter_Campaign
  4. https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html
  5. https://news.yahoo.com/whale-found-dead-220-pound-134639460.html
  6. https://medium.com/@albertbates/becoming-plastic-4f8c13ad57d
  7. https://www.wuft.org/blog/2019/11/26/the-plastics-problem-pbs-newshour-presents-wednesday-at-10-p-m/
  8. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/8/eaax1157
  9. http://www.dontmesswithtexas.org/about/litter-facts/
  10. https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/poll-says-majority-americans-willing-191830311.html

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The Arlington Conservation Council, Plastic Reduction Group welcomes feedback at no-plastic@acctexas.orgMembers are:  Candy Halliburton, Jane Oosterhuis, Jayne Metzger, Dick Schoech, Sarah Stephens, Joanne Stewart and Corey Troiani.

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