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The First Step Knowing More About Litter

Why People Litter  

Research by Keep America Beautiful indicates that people litter because:

  1. They feel no sense of ownership, even though areas such as parks, beaches and roads are public properties;
  2. They believe someone else -- a park maintenance worker or highway worker -- will pick up after them;
  3. Litter has already 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, mature adults and all ages in between are equally likely to litter.  


Where Do People Litter?

Areas most likely to be littered fall into four categories:  

  1. Special Event Venues: Including festivals, concerts and other special events that attract a large number of people.  The larger the event, the more waste it typically creates. 
  2. Roadways and Highways: As well as highway on/off ramps and roadway median strips.  The recent census reports that people spent more and more hours in the car every day.  People are snacking, smoking and eating their meals while traveling by car.
  3. High Traffic and Everyday Locations: Such as fast food businesses, convenience stores, picnic grounds, park benches and other high pedestrian traffic areas. 
  4. Transition Points: Places where someone stops eating, drinking or smoking before they proceed, including entrances a public building, an office or a retail establishment.


Litter-Known Facts 

There are seven primary sources for litter:

1) Household trash handling and it's placement on the curb collection
2) Dumpsters used by businesses
3) Loading docks
4) Construction and demolition sites
5) Trucks with unsecured loads
6) Pedestrians
7) Motorists

You may be surprised to learn that pedestrians and motorists account for less than half of all litter - the other five sources account for between 50-80% of all litter. In South Carolina, the primary source of litter is unsecured loads.


Litter Decomposition Rates
Object Decomposition Time
Styrofoam Container 1 Million Years
Plastic jug 1 Million years
Aluminum Can 200-500 Years
Disposable Diaper 550 Years
Food Can 90 Years
Leather Shoe 45 Years
Wool Sock  1 Year
Paper Bag  1 Month
Banana Peel 3-4 Weeks