The Startling Who, What, and Why of Littering

The Startling Who, What, and Why of Littering


Litter prevention

A shocking 75% of all Americans admit to littering at some point within the last five years. As a result, it should come as no surprise that some 14 billion pounds of garbage are dumped into the oceans by the United States every year and, over the last two decades, the amount of plastic waste polluting the planet has grown 10% every year. Unfortunately, the high volume of land pollution is leading to a number of different environmental issues, and the solutions to those problems are hazy. However, the who, what, why, and other littering facts are pretty clear.

Who Litters?

At some point, most every American will litter, even if it is just a small gum rapper. But some are more common offenders than others.

  • Men between the ages of 18 and 34
  • Smokers
  • Drivers who go more than 50 miles per day
  • Fast food patrons who stop at least twice a week
  • People who go out for entertainment at least once a week

Even if you don’t fall within that group, being sure to change any bad littering habits you have and avoiding developing them in the first place will enable you to do your part to help the environment.
What Gets Littered?
The list of items that people litter is extensive, and there is no way to mention everything. But some are certainly more often littered than others.

  • Plastic bottled water containers that could be recycled
  • Construction site materials
  • Household garbage
  • Wrappers and bags consumed by people in their cars
  • Material from trucks that are not properly recovered
  • Items from overflowing or improperly used business dumpsters

Any kind of item that is supposed to get thrown away has probably been littered at some point, but some materials are more commonly disposed of improperly more than others.
Why Do People Litter?
There isn’t one good reason why people choose to throw their trash on the ground, rather than in the dumpster, and motivations will always very. But there are a handful of common causes.

  • Laziness
  • Apathy about the environment
  • Ignorance about the effects of littering
  • Litter breeds more litter
  • No consequences for littering
  • Lack of pride in the surrounding environment

Most of the troubling littering facts can point to one of these reasons as the culprit. Making attitude adjustments isn’t necessarily easy, but if you are guilty of littering, these factors might play a role.

It is hard to imagine littering ever going away completely, especially since the types of people who litter and their motivations are so varied. But by learning some shocking littering facts and both making sure to do your part and inform others, you might be able to make a difference in your community.