July 14, 2009

garbage can

In 1001 little ways to save the planet number 1001 is Be a litter picker

I have noticed it is second nature for my husband to pick up and throw away litter he comes upon, or even bring it home to recycle.  I’d like to thing I do it unconsciously, but I know it is a conscious decision each and every time, but I do it whenever health and safety allow.  I hope my children are watching and learning.  They certainly know better than to litter (as teens this will probably be the way they rebel); I have very little tolerance for littering in my presence. 

According to research on littering in Australia (with similar results elsewhere), they found the following:

Five types of people with respect to litter:
  • Non-litterers – environmentally conscious, don’t litter and usually pick up litter of others
  • Inconvenients – too hard, too much trouble, someone else’s problem
  • Ignorants – these people are simply unaware of a link between the environment and their litter behavior
  • Willful Arrogants – usually litter in a context, i.e. "It’s okay to litter in urban areas but not in the country"
  • Anti-establishments – make a statement with purposeful littering
Caring enough to not litter seems to be driven by:
  • Knowledge and awareness
  • How much they care about the environment
  • Positive self-image
  • Attitudes to life (i.e. happy and content)
  • Sense of community and an empathy with the needs of others
  • Ease of disposal
  • Context they are in (16-24 year olds tend to litter more while in groups, but those older litter less in groups and more when alone)
  • Type of litter
  • If they can get away with it (either in terms of being observed or fined)

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, where I found this information, the 16 – 24 year old age group was also identified in Texas research as a group that is most likely to litter.  Hmmm, maybe those teens are rebelling.  I hope they grow out of it.


One comment

  1. This is really interesting. One of my friends runs the litter cleanup program here — I’m going to email your post to her. I saw a study recently that said that people litter more where they see others have littered there too. An already-clean area is much less likely to be littered. Sad that the younger ones are the most likely, huh?

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