Yes, we have a very big litter problem here in the US, especially in the big cities.
As I was waiting for the G train at the Nostrand Ave stop in Brooklyn, I was amazed by the
amount of litter on the subway tracks, which launched me into my “wonderment stage” on why
Of course, it’s probably because of an uncaring attitude, but there has to be more to this.
This brings up a few more questions.
Do litterbugs have a miserable life?
Is this a learned behavior from upbringing?
Are the poor more likely to litter as opposed to the middle and upper class?
Do people convert from litterbugs, to more respectful citizens of the environment later
on in life?
Steve Spacek, the author of the “American State Litter scorecard” states, “Studies have consistently found that youths and young adults are the most prone, or willing, to litter.”
Eh, maybe, but I’ve seen quite a few older adults litter too.
Besides the eyesore element, the costs of cleanup are a huge expense for New York City.
According to Kevin Ortiz, Deputy Director, External Communications
of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, he states that “We spend about $20M a year to clean the tracks. This figure does not include the capital expense of purchasing vacuum trains.”
In addition, subway riders have heard the common announcements on the subway PA system
that littering causes track fires, which of course, delays trains. Discarded newspapers are the worst culprit by easily catching fire from electrical equipment. Drainage systems clogged by wet newspapers also cause flooding.
Keep in mind that the figure above does not include the costs of regular litter bin collections at all of the subway stations.
And the cigarettes
Cigarette butts account for about 38% of the litter content in most cities, and people probably think flicking one cigarette butt out their car window, or out onto the sidewalk is insignificant, but the City of San Francisco spends about 11 million dollars a year just for cleanup of those itty bitty cigarette butts.
New York City most likely parallels that figure.
Annual costs for litter cleanup for the US are estimated at 11.5 billion a year – wow!
Just imagine how that money could be re-directed into much needed programs for
the city, such as education and rebuilding of the decaying infrastructure.
I feel education in schools should be part of a country wide program.
Heavier fines and enforcement, backed up by articles in the media referencing
the crackdown can help deter the potential litter bug also.
Imagine if the city of New York used the same vigilance on their parking violations
dept on litter crackdown?
It would be a nice source of income for the city also.
Feedback or thoughts? Feel free to post your comment below.