3 Easy Steps to Eliminate Litter in your City
2. Promote litter prevention
3. Reduce future litter (especially single use plastic)
- Coordinate community pickups, at least monthly. Create theme events to gain public attention and show that cleaning up can be fun. Here are a few ideas from Museum of Litter's Pinterest Board: Litter Awareness Events.
- Get the whole community involved. If the Mayor, Commissioners and top business owners can pick up litter, anyone can.
- Divide your town into small sections and start creating litter-free zones. Get people to volunteer as block/area captains. Work at keeping each section free from litter.
- Clean your waterways.
- Clean your storm drains. Use Jetty Kings to collect litter before it enters lakes, rivers and oceans via storm drains.
- Consider documenting the litter picked up. There are various apps available for use on smart phones.
- I use the Instagram app with the hashtag #Litterati. I find it a superfast, easy way to document litter. To see how this documentation can be useful for your city check out this great article about Litterati by Urbalful. Learn more or connect with Litterati. You can also follow them on Facebook or Twitter.
- Post BEFORE & AFTER photos of cleaned up sites.
- See if your town participates in SeeClickFix. If not, encourage them to join so can report litter you are unable to pick up yourself.
- Get local businesses's support to provide snacks and coupons as an incentive to clean up groups.
- Ask littered retail shops to clean up their storefronts. In Vermont, Litter With a Story to Tell created a Clean Up Coupon a citizen can present to a retailer.
- Make a SPECIAL effort to remove cigarette butts. (More info below) These are frequently overlooked in organized cleanups. The Museum of Litter believes if we can eliminate cigarette butts eliminating the rest of the more visible litter will be easy. See our previous post Ban the Butt.
- Below is a great Litter Awareness Campaign from Auckland, NZ. Can you see this being effective in your town?
- Create a presentation to educate your community about the costs of litter; property values, health & safety, crime, clean up costs, wildlife and the environment.
Get businesses to commit to being a Litter Free Establishment. They can display a decal on their shop window stating they are in a Litter-free zone and of their intention and commitment to the community. They may wish to make free or discount coupons available for their goods or services that tie in to the community effort. It shows goodwill on the part of the business providing the coupons, brings them business and is a great PR move.
- Create a Litter School (like Traffic School) to educate Litterbugs.
Have an awareness campaign informing citizens that you have a zero tolerance for litter. Have a grace period while educating the community. Inform them that in a set time frame, say 3 months, you will begin strict enforcement of litter laws.
- Actually enforce existing litter laws. Have steep fines. First offense has to go to Litter School and/or pick up litter.
- Have adequate trash cans and recycle bins. Be sure they are close enough together to encourage use. Disney has determined people will walk no farther than 27 feet before tossing their trash. Towns probably can't place a garbage cans every 27', but there's no reason to have to walk a long city block looking for a place to throw away trash.
- Make sure trash and recycle bins are emptied as necessary. Overflowing trashcans contribute to unintentional litter.
- Have whimsical, engaging trash cans to encourage use. Get local artists involved. Have a contest for cool designs. Some examples: Check out this cool fish mouth trash can, basket balltrash can, a talking trash can and others on the Museum of Litter Pinterest Board Cool Trash Cans.
- Maybe your city could create drive-thru mini trash/recycling centers located around town to discard car trash. They could also hand out car and personal ashtrays to smokers.
- Have cigarette butt specific receptacles. Place them near building entrances where people have to extinguish their cigarettes before entering. Instead of buying regular receptacles, your town could make their own. They could be made to educate and inform the public that filters are toxic plastic that don't decompose, pollute our waterways and enter our food chain. Get the community involved. Have a contest for the design of this receptacle. Watch Fumo the cool/fun way the dispose of cigarette butts.
- Institute a Program for Upcycling Cigarette Butts. These Cities are Trading in Cigarette Butts for Cash. Have your community collect and store cigarette butts separately and upcycle them by mailing them to Terracycle. Find out more about Terracycle's program. (You'll have to enter your birthdate to prove you're over 18 to enter the Cigarette Waste Brigade.) Seeing people picking up cigarette butts will pique the interest of observers and open them up to learn about the toxic nature of cigarette butts and their value as a recyclable (upcycleable) resource.
- Encourage smoke shops to be a depository to upcycle cigarette butts. They could have a display container on the counter as a form of education and could collect butts for recycling brought back by their repeat customers. These customers could receive a coupon for savings on their next purchase.
- Your town could pay homeless to pick up the butts and help solve two problems at once.
- Give out personal, portable, ashtrays. These can be purchased with local advertising on them or be a DIY project upcycled from old plastic medicine bottles, etc.
- Hold a craft workshop to create these DIY personal ashtrays at a community center.
- Hold a craft workshop for kids to create art out of collected litter.
- Institute a Beautification Program with landscaping and/or art. Focus on keeping it beautiful and the litter will take care of itself.
- Institute a "Good-Doobie" program. Clean up crews (city employees and volunteers) can reward people seen using the trash can by handing out coupons to local businesses.
- Institute a bottle deposit/refund bill.
- Create a LitterMobile...a vehicle that shows the litter collected or a VW Beetle bugged out as a "Litterbug" with a "Don't be a Litterbug" message to be driven around town.
- Every town (especially coastal towns) should have a *Museum of Litter* with exhibits of collected litter. We need to frame litter in a way to make visible what was never invisible, but what many refuse to see. Especially cigarette butts. People will be amazed at how many there are, especially collected within a specific time frame. This can be a Pop-Up Shop and litter can be organized by type and/or color to show the vast quantities collected, or with an art installation made from the litter.
- Create an outdoor art installation from litter being picked up so people can see the actually amounts of litter present in their city. They might be encouraged to join in and pick up the litter they see to add to this installation. Here are some art installation awareness projects by The Litter Letter Project.
- Photo: by Rachael Hatley of Hatley & Associates, LLC, founder of The Litter Letter Project.
- Create a local PSA to encourage litter-prevention.