Do you hate litter? If you do, you’re not alone. Participants in studies about litter all indicated that they hate litter, and used words like “disgusting” to describe it.
Is there litter in Hanover? You bet. Wooded areas along Hanover’s roads all have litter. Open space locations contain remains of people’s snacks. Front yards are litter free only after homeowners pick up someone else’s trash.
But wait… If everyone hates litter, why is there so much of it? The same studies that showed that people hate litter also indicate that almost everyone litters. Sometimes littering is done regularly; sometimes it’s very occasionally done, but there’s a good amount of littering going on.
Members of the Hanover Garden Club are just as fed up with litter as you are and decided to try to reduce the amount of litter in town by encouraging people to not litter. That’s right in line with Hanover Garden Club’s commitment to address environmental problems in town.
Justifications for littering People use a lot of reasons to justify littering. Here are the most common ones:
Excuse #1: Littering saves time
Throwing a used coffee cup out the car window is a quick way to dispose of the cup, but is it really quicker than disposing of the cup in a waste basket or trash receptacle at your destination?
Let’s do a time/motion study: Time required to roll down the window and throw out the cup -- the stop watch says 3 seconds. Time required to put the cup back in the cup holder, pick it up as you leave your car, and throw the cup in a waste basket at your destination: -- 3 seconds. And you won’t risk splashing the dregs of the coffee on your sleeve. The time required to put the coffee cup in a car litter bag in your car is even less.
What about the remains of the snack you brought with you when you were enjoying open space? Just how much time is saved by not bringing your trash with you when you leave? Gathering up your trash takes just a few seconds.
According to the workers at the Transfer Station, the majority of the litter that collects on the slope across from the Transfer Station – one of the mega litter sites in town - comes from uncovered loads of trash in open bed pick up trucks. Securing your load doesn’t take much time and avoids spills that need to be cleaned up in your truck. Blowing trash can also be a factor in traffic accidents. Your insurance company won’t tale kindly to you causing an accident because your trash wasn’t secured. That’s a hassle you don’t need.
Excuse #2: Litter won’t hurt you
Litter is a breeding ground for bacteria and diseases. Germs can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with litter. Bacteria and parasites can be transmitted by animals and insects that have been in contact with contaminated litter. Animals and birds can be killed by ingesting or becoming entangled in litter.
Excuse #3: Litter will decompose
Over time that’s true of most things, but how long does decomposition really take? Paper………........…………2-5 months Orange peels……..6 months Milk cartons…..…….5 years Cigarette butts…. 18 months to 10 years Styrofoam cups… 50 years Plastic straws….… 200 years Plastic bottles….. 450 years Plastic bags…...……. 10 – 1,000 years Aluminum foil….... never How comfortable are you with waiting for litter to break down and disappear? You’re in for a long wait.
Excuse #4: Litter is someone else’s problem
People tend to litter more often outside their own neighborhoods. The idea seems to be that if strangers can’t identify the person littering, littering isn’t so bad. If you’d be embarrassed if your friends saw you littering, why would you think that strangers will think good thoughts about you while they’re picking up your trash? Littering says a lot about you.
There’s no excuse for littering
The common excuses for littering just don’t hold up. There’s no significant time savings. Litter can harm people, animals, and birds. Decomposition of litter takes a long time and, in the case of aluminum foil, never happens. Litter is everyone’s problem because the problems with litter impact everyone.
You’ll see There’s No Excuse for Littering posters around town and posts about the campaign on Facebook.
What’s in it for you?
If everyone’s actions matched his/her belief that littering is wrong, there would be less litter. The Hanover Garden Club is offering free car litter bags while supplies last so that not littering can be a little easier. Pick up yours at the Hanover Transfer Station on June 5 beginning at 8:30 AM.