Keep America Beautiful


Why do People Litter?

Keep America Beautiful has determined that people litter because:

  • They feel no sense of ownership, even though areas such as parks and beaches are public property.
  • They believe someone else—a park maintenance or highway worker—will pick up after them.
  • Litter already has accumulated.
Who is Littering?

There is no such thing as a single "littering type." People of all ages and social backgrounds have been observed littering -- men and women, children, and all ages in between are likely to litter.

KAB's network of affiliates and other stakeholders use a variety of traditional and community education programs to teach responsible behavior and proper disposal of trash and waste. Changing behaviors and societal norms begins with each of us ... and it beings with you.

Where do People Litter?

Areas most likely to be littered fall into four categories: special event venues, roadways and highways, high traffic and everyday locations, and what KAB refers to as "Transition Points."

Read more about where people litter.

What Happens to Litter and Why it Matters

No matter where litter starts, it moves. From streets and highways to parks and waterways. Wind and weather moves litter around a community, into the gutters, planted gardens, alleyways and parking areas. 

In one study, researchers found that 18% of all littered items end up in our streams and waterways as pollution.
Other influences include changes in household and business trash collection.  "Pay As You Throw" programs or infrequent pick-ups may move individuals to illegally dump household trash.

When illegal dumping occurs, days and sometimes weeks or months will pass before it gets cleaned up. In the meantime, people, animals and wildlife are naturally attracted, trash bags are opened, and the trash is distributed on the ground. Once this happens, it is easily caught by the wind and becomes ... litter!

Solutions to litter problems are not always about cleaning up, after the fact.  In most cases, solutions come from thoughtful prevention.

Keep America Beautiful knows that litter is a result of some individuals paying too little attention to their actions and others carelessly handling waste.  We know it takes each and everyone of us to make a difference.

Do your part ... Help us prevent litter in your community. 


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