Little litter is a big problem for Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvanians are fighting back. Small pieces of litter might seem insignificant, but they make up the vast majority of the litter found in public spaces around Pennsylvania. Research shows that small litter adds up by attracting more litter, not to mention it can be toxic over time, and it costs PA millions each year to clean up.
We’re calling on Pennsylvanians to “Fight Dirty” by keeping our state free from litter and ensuring every piece of waste – no matter how small – is disposed of properly.
There are four easy-to-remember facts about litter that can help Pennsylvania fight back against litter:
1. Every litter bit matters. Little litter is a big problem for Pennsylvania. In fact, 85% of the litter along PA roadways is four inches or less. Toss your trash—no matter how small—into a garbage can. Not on our roads.
2. Litter attracts litter. Research shows that when an individual sees litter, they’re more likely to toss a can, candy wrapper, or cigarette butt in the same place. Take care of your trash before it attracts more.
3. Cigarette butts are toxic. They may seem small and harmless, but cigarette butts are filled with dangerous chemicals which are toxic to wildlife and humans. They account for one-third of all litter and can take up to ten years to decompose. Stash them until you can trash them.
4. Litter costs us all. Each year, Pennsylvania spends $350 million to combat thousands of pounds of litter. Those funds could be used for road repairs, transportation, and safety improvements. Instead, they’re thrown away on cleaning up trash.
Fighting dirty doesn’t have to take a lot of work. We can all do our part to tackle the big problem of litter with small, simple actions. These tips can help you make little changes in your life to reduce litter in your community. Share these tips with friends, family and community members to further the impact and help PA Fight Dirty.
11 Ways to be Anti-Litter
- Keep a reusable bag in your car to stash trash like food wrappers until you get home, stop at a gas station, or pass a garbage can.
- Stop trash at its source by living the reduce-reuse-recycle lifestyle. Ask for less packaging, shun single-use plastics, make items last for as long as possible and buy used whenever possible. If you must buy, recycle right! Find out what items you can and can’t recycle.
- Cover your trash and recycling bins when you take them to the curb. If you sweep the sidewalk in front of your home, bag any trash and put it in a trash can instead of sweeping it into the street.
- Cover items being transported in a truck bed. Uncovered trucks are one of the top three sources of litter in PA.
- Follow the Leave No Trace code in Pennsylvania’s parks and forests. It’s a small price to pay for our beautiful—and free—parks.
- If you are a smoker, keep a container in your car and pocket for cigarette butts. Cigarette butts contain plastic, leach nicotine and heavy metals and take about 10 years to break down.
- Report illegal dump sites. Use the online form from Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, which is easy and confidential.
- Check out PA’s Litter Action Plan for many things that can prevent littering. Then call your representatives or your favorite local business to ask what they’re doing to prevent litter and how you can join in.
- Join a local volunteer litter cleanup event through Pick Up Pennsylvania. Free supplies are provided for PUP events March 1 to May 31 and Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.
- Adopt a highway. It’s easy to apply, and PennDOT provides supplies.
- If you’re a teacher, school administrator, or parent, start a Litter Free School Zone program to get students in the habit of taking care of their trash.
Part of the PA Litter Action Plan spearheaded by The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Department of Transportation (PennDOT).