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What Is Litter?

The Definition

Litter is nothing but a piece of waste or rubbish that has been disposed improperly, without consent and at wrong location. Littering simply means throwing away objects on the ground or leaving them lying on the ground instead of disposing them at garbage can, recycling bin or trash container.

1 %
England's residents admit to dropping trash in the street from time to time.
1 %
people in the U.S. admit to littering at least once.
1 %
of littering is done with intent

Common Questions

The infographic is titled, ‘Littering Statistics.’ Here are some highlights from the littering infographic: Total annual amount spent on cleaning up litter yearly $11.5 billion. Percent of all littered items that are cigarette butts 50%. Percent of people who have admitted to littering in the past 5 years 75%

Littering causes a threat to our health and can cause harmful germs and bacteria.Littering can cause fires and also sends a message that people really don’t care about the Earth. Whereas some people may not be bothered to live in a world surrounded by trash, others may be trying to prevent that.

Every Individual

  • Set an example for others, especially family, co-workers, friends, and children by using trash and/or recycling receptacles and not littering.
  • Always have available a litter bag in your car.
  • If you are a smoker, carry and use a portable or pocket ashtray.
  • If you see litter, pick it up.


  • Carry and use a car litterbag.  When these are full, empty them into a trash and/or recycling receptacle. 
  • Use a car ashtray or portable ashtray to dispose of cigarette butts and lighting material.
  • Do not throw any litter out of vehicle windows.


  • Before you light up, identify where you will dispose of your cigarette waste when you finish smoking. Use trash and ash receptacles, including pocket ashtrays.
  • Carry a pocket ashtray all the time or have a portable ashtray with you as you leave your home, office, or car.
  • Encourage fellow smokers to be responsible for their cigarette litter, too.

Pet Owners

  • Pick up after your dog as you walk through your neighborhood.  Use newspaper delivery bags, “scoopers”, or other easy-to-use methods to clean up after your pet.
  • Be sure to put pet waste in trash receptacles and not recycling bins.
  • Take responsibility for your pet and his/her actions.

Community Residents

  • Make sure your trash cans have lids that can be securely fastened or use bungee cords to hold them in place.
  • Secure all bags and use twine to secure loose trash for curbside trash collection.
  • Tie paper into bundles before placing into curbside recycling bins.

Government Leaders

  • Provide litter bags for all government-owned vehicles.  And provide tarps to any government vehicles that may transport items that could become litter.
  • Identify “transition points” at all government-owned buildings; place ash and trash receptacles at these points and commit to proper maintenance of the receptacles.
  • Leading by example will encourage building owners and business managers to place ash receptacles at points outdoors where their employees and/or customers smoke. Consider adopting building standards to encourage adequate disposal containers.
  • Distribute portable or pocket ashtrays and litter bags.
  • Educate citizens about individual responsibility for proper waste disposal.

Business Owners

  • Provide ash and trash receptacles at entrances, exits, loading docks, picnic areas as well as in parking lots and along walkways of your business.  Remember, these should be placed at “transition points” or where people generally gather.
  • Assure easy access to dumpsters by employees and contractors. Check dumpsters daily to see that top and side doors are closed. This prevents scavengers from spreading trash on the ground.
  • Cover all open loads on trucks leaving your business. Encourage vendors and contractors to do the same.
  • Educate your employees about the importance of individual responsibility for a clean and safe working environment.

Community Leaders

  • Use information from Keep America Beautiful to initiate education programs throughout the community that address sustainable community improvement through litter prevention, beautification, and waste reduction and recycling.
  • Provide support to government leaders in their efforts to place and maintain receptacles at government buildings.
  • Provide support to businesses that practice litter prevention.

Event Organizers

  • Make your festival, fair, or any outdoor community events “waste-wise” or “litter free” from the initial planning stages of the event.
  • Give out litter bags and portable or pocket ashtrays at the entrances of your event and make sure everyone knows that your event is a “waste-wise” or “litter free” event.
  • Place large trash and recycling receptacles near food venues and eating areas. Remember, a large event with a large number of attendees need large, well-marked receptacles.
  • If you place event volunteers nearby to help attendees find the receptacles as they need them, you will reduce clean up while educating people about recycling and proper waste disposal.

Marina Operators

  • Pass out litter bags and portable or pocket ashtrays to boaters and their guests.
  • Provide ash, trash, recycling and bulk waste receptacles dockside for your customers.
  • Install fishing line collection receptacles with signage to collect broken and used line. Keep fishing line out of the water!
  • Offer litter bags, ash receptacles, and trash containers in your supply store.
Litter Prevention

Litter Prevention Through Time

The Financial Insentive To Recycle Project

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