Litter is a major problem in Hampton Roads and across the world. In addition to spoiling our views and decreasing our property values, litter is harmful to the environment. Litter on the ground almost always finds its way into a waterway, especially in an area surrounded by water like Hampton Roads. Wildlife and marine animals, including our beloved sea turtles, become sick from eating litter or become entangled in litter limiting their ability to meet basic needs. As if that wasn’t bad enough, litter decreases property values, neighborhood satisfaction and encourages more littering. That’s right. People are more likely to litter in an area where litter is already present. And cleaning up the mess is costly. The U.S. spends more than $11.5 billion each year cleaning up litter with businesses picking up the tab for $9.1 billion of that cost.
GOOD TO KNOW
- Most littering is intentional and there is no such thing as a little litter.
- Cigarette butts are consistently the most littered item and according to research, 65 percent of smokers litter.
- Other frequently littered items are food remnants, food wrappers, food containers, beverage containers, napkins, and paper.
- Discarded biodegradable items are still litter. A banana peel can take up to two years to biodegrade.
- Litter is often found in roadways, storm drains, construction sites, and any transition point where people are moving from one space to another (such as retail entrances/exits, parking lots, loading docks, and along walkways).
- Storm drains and ditches clogged with litter can lead to localized street flooding and prevent the stormwater system from operating efficiently.
GOOD TO DO
- If you see trash around the neighborhood, pick it up. Be a good neighbor and set an example.
- Keep litter and other debris off your streets where it can easily enter storm drains and ditches.
- Be sure your trash and recycling containers stay covered to prevent trash from spilling or blowing out.
Schools & Youth Groups
- “Adopt” an area and clean up litter regularly.
- Display signage that encourages people to throw trash away properly.
- Host a “litter-free” event.
- Learn what’s being littered and develop strategies for preventing it.
- Launch a litter prevention project with funds from the askHRgreen.org Mini Grant Program.
- Include litter education in employee training and incorporate litter prevention strategies into regular employee tasks.
- Engage your employees; ask for their input.
- Provide convenient trash, ash and recycling receptacles at “transition points” to give customers a proper disposal option. Don’t forget receptacles for employee break areas as well.
- Use only covered trash, ash and recycling containers to eliminate trash from spilling or blowing out.
- Your packaging.
- The distribution of straws/condiments/napkins (for food services).
- The need for paper receipts, plastic bags, etc.
- Post Team Up 2 Clean Up posters or brochures to remind customers and employees that your business cares about litter prevention.
- Rally the troops and organize a Team Up 2 Clean Up event in or around your business.
Now let’s get out there and Team Up 2 Clean Up!