I was challenged once by a young person when I picked up some garbage. “Why? It’s not your garbage.” “But it is my community.”
It has been obvious a lot of people in our community feel this way. There was great support for the Shoreline cleanup and 20 Minutes of Magic initiatives. Some picked up garbage without any program just to keep our community looking great.
The big challenge is preventing littering in the first place.
More garbage/recycling bins would make a difference. Disney’s parks have bins every 30 steps after Walt Disney spent time at another amusement park observing how often people dropped litter on the ground.
Businesses could place bins in spots close by where garbage tends to collect. Municipal governments and schools could put out more bins in parks and school yards.
Litter bugs need to change their habits. If there is no garbage can or recycling bin available, people should put it in a pocket, leave it in a vehicle or hold on to it until it can be placed in a garbage can or recycling bin.
Passenger truck drivers should remove small light weight items from an uncovered box.
Understanding why people litter is challenging. Where do they think it will go?
Litter does not break down very quickly.
Here are some examples of how long it takes.
Banana peels – 1 month
Corn based plastic – 45 days
Cigarette butts – up to 10 years
Aluminium cans – 200 to 500 years
Plastic bag – up to 1,000 years
Styrofoam cup – 1 million years
There is a proper place for these items. Banana peels can be composted. Aluminium cans should be recycled. The rest go in a garbage bin.