When people think of the factors that influence their health, contribute to crime, and impact their local economy, litter is probably not at the top of their list. Litter is normally considered an eyesore and for some also recognized as destructive to our environment. In reality it affects these as well as many other areas of the community.
This paper will examine the litter problem, the impact it has on urban areas, and strategies for litter and waste reduction. These strategies are specifically tailored to an urban community like that of Lincoln Village along the River, taking into account the programs that are already available there and the best possible way to address this problem. In community meetings about the River residents identified litter as a serious problem in their neighborhood, and stated that this needs to be addressed before any other revitalization program can take place.
What makes up litter and who is littering?
Everyone knows what litter is because they see it along roadways, sidewalks, parks, rivers etc., but what is more important is recognizing what makes up litter so that it can be dealt with properly. A study done in South Africa includes plastics, paper, metals, glass, vegetation, animals, construction material, and other miscellaneous items in their definition of litter (Armitage and Rooseboom 1999). A clean up done in Washington D.C. reported that 30% of all items picked up were plastics that could've been recycled like plastic soda bottles (Vernon 2004). According to an Australian paper on the litter issue, cigarette butts are the most commonly littered item, followed by plastics, and then paper (Petrie et al.). Identifying the types of items that are littered is the first step to finding ways to remediate the problem. In the River, there is a large variety of smaller items, everything from paper and plastic waste to clothing and chemical containers. There is also a significant amount of very large items like shopping carts, tires, and car parts.
It is also very important to identify who is littering so that group can be targeted in a campaign to reduce littering. Research from the group Keep America Beautiful found that males are twice as likely to litter as females. They also found that young people, under the age of 35, are twice as likely to litter as people between the ages of 35-49, and three times as likely to litter as people over 50. Another study by Gellar, though, found that littering behavior is nearly evenly distributed among all demographic groups (as in Florida Litter Study, 1998). While campaigns targeting young males have been successful in reducing litter, it is more important to create a campaign to target the group that will be using the area. In a more general sense, a relationship exists between littering and a lack of ownership or pride in a community (Petrie et al.). Studies have also found that people are more likely to litter when litter is already present than in ...