Sign posted by the U.S. Forest Service in the Los Padres National Forest, California.
According to Cure Litter (2013) and Livestrong (2013), 75% of U.S. Americans have admitted to littering in the past five years. Approximately $11.5 million is spent on cleaning up about 250 million tons of litter per year. The amount of money spent and the amount of waste we litter is a waste of human resources and energy. Most importantly, litter can potentially cause physical damage to the natural environment, and it can also detrimentally affect the health and well-being of human beings and societies.
Whenever I step out of my home, I am bound to find litter in the hallways, neighborhoods, and streets within the community in which I live and the college/university where I work. It's as if littering has become an acceptable social norm. Since we are studying social problems relevant to the environment this particular week, the stats on littering are quite alarming, and this issue is quite prevalent in my own community, I have decided to address this social problem of littering. It affects all
of us, because we share the same common and public areas, and littering within and beyond such spaces is far too common a problem that's often ignored and overlooked.
As "jazzy" as it might sound, I am carrying gloves and a trash bag with me at all times (on my person/in my car) so that I can remove trash I see in places/areas where it clearly should not be (streets, parks, classrooms, etc.). Of course, I disregard any trash/litter that has already been disposed of via bins and/or other receptacles.
Questions I would like to pose to the class:
- Why do you think littering is such a commonly-practiced behavior that is often overlooked and disregarded?
- What can you personally do to change your personal habits/behaviors specific to littering? How can you help others do the same?