Don’t Make Littering Part of Your Spring-Cleaning Routine

According to old Buckeye Chuck, we are in for an early spring this year.  I will believe it when I see it!  At least those April showers are in full effect as the NCAA Women’s Final Four and a generational Total Solar Eclipse descend upon the Land.  Great times are sure to be had by all if you are a Hawkeye, Huskie, Gamecock, or member of the Wolfpack.  Especially if your team walks away hoisting a championship trophy.
Spring is also the time when we Midwesterners come out of hibernation ourselves and begin to prepare for one of the most beautiful times of the year.  We clean out the garage, basement, our closets, and cabinets to get our home environment just right.  But what about our community environment?  Are we as fastidious about keeping our neighborhoods clean?  When we are hanging out around town, do we deposit our trash in a trash bin, or does it find its way onto the ground?

What is it with people who can’t tell the difference between a trash can, and the ground? Couldn’t you try to be like Caitlin, Paige, Aziaha, or Te-Hina, and pretend to make a three-point shot?  Then there are those jokers who get a kick out of tossing their garbage out of their car windows.  Or how about the neighbor who doesn’t adequately bag their garbage on trash pick-up day, so when we get home from work, paper is blowing up and down the street? No doubt, you can probably think up several other examples of this rude behavior.

The act of littering is something that I have never been able to understand. I originally decided to pen a version of this “rant” after a bike ride that my wife and I took around Lake Erie several years ago.  We were blown away by the random pop bottles, cigarette butts, fast-food wrappers, and the like, strewn periodically along our route. In most cases, there were available receptacles in plain sight. If you are a litterbug, you are a menace to society. Yes, I said it. Here is why:

Costs of Littering
According to data from Litter in America:

  • Litter clean-up costs the United States more than an estimated $11.5 billion each year.
  • Businesses pay $9.1 billion of clean-up costs, or about 80%.
  • States, cities, and counties spend at least $1.3 billion on litter removal.
  • Educational institutions spend approximately $241 million dollars annually for litter cleanup.
  • 93% of homeowners say a littered neighborhood would decrease their assessment of a home’s value and influences their decision to purchase a property. And 40% estimated that litter would reduce a home’s value by 10% to 24%.
  • 36% of business development officials say that litter impacts a decision to locate to a community.
  • 55% of real estate agents think that litter reduces property values by about 9%.

Just imagine if some of this money wasted on dispensing of litter could be invested in educating our children, or the $9.1 billion businesses are spending on clean-up costs could be reinvested in their companies to create more jobs. Wouldn’t that be a much better way to use our resources?

Many things happen in our lives over which we have little or no control – littering is not one of them. Littering is an intentional act that displays a lack of respect for others, and our environment.  The lazy offender is also showing little regard for themselves. There is absolutely no excuse.

What can we do to change this inexcusable behavior? No. 1 – don’t litter! Use available trash baskets when you have something to dispose of. If you can’t find a convenient place to get rid of those unhealthy fast-food wrappers, keep it in your car until you get home and throw it in your own garbage can, not by the side of the road.  You probably shouldn’t be eating that junk anyway. 

And if you are walking in your neighborhood, through the office, down the hall at school, or in a parking lot and spot a stray pop bottle or piece of paper, bend over and pick it up, please.  Don’t just step over it and assume someone else will get it. This way you are demonstrating to others that, unlike the person who perpetrated the act of littering, you have some class. Most specifically, our own kids are watching everything we do, including how we as adults react to or participate in the act of littering. Littering is a learned behavior, so if you have a budding young litterbug on your hands at home, don’t blame them. Look in the mirror.


Until next time,

Lowell Perry,
Chief Diversity Officer, VP Corporate & Community