Litterers: Stop them in Their Tracks

litterCentral Park in the heart of Manhattan, NYC can be astounding. Regardless of the current gray and brown winter starkness it is the sheer beauty of its quaint paths, open meadows and timeless structures (such as the 100+ year old carousel). That is why when I saw a tourist (the day-glow fanny pack gave him away) nonchalantly toss an empty soda cup over his shoulder right in front of me, my temper boiled over. Needless to say after I got through with him (all verbal, no fisticuffs) that litterer will be using public garbage cans in any city he visits from now on. But it got me thinking about other people that may have such blatant disregard for their surroundings and, overall, their planet. How best is to deal with these thoughtless souls?

The Littering List

This list covers most littering sources:

  • Pedestrians
  • Motorists
  • Trucking (debris from unsecured loads)
  • Entertainment events
  • Unmaintained commercial dumpsters
  • Illegal dumping
  • Irresponsible non-secured residential trashcans
  • Construction sites (lack of proper cleanup)

Environmental Effects

Some may not think that a bubble gum wrapper, soda cup, potato chip bag or the like is going to harm the environment yet they can be a big factor when accumulated. A simple toss of any of these things contributes to storm water clogging, extra taxpayer funds for random pickup, vital water contamination, bacteria breeding grounds and a threat to wildlife. Not to mention a significant eyesore that can affect the daily mental health of common residents.

Stopping One Litterer at a Time (without getting shot)

When confronted that he ‘dropped’ something (in this case a small newspaper tossed on the sidewalk with a garbage can not ten feet away) the man shouted, “That’s what I pay taxes for, someone else to clean it up.” Obviously this is an ignorant person and if pushed far enough, he would probably resort to violence. Therefore here are some tips on dealing with litterers while avoiding confrontation:

The Quiet Pick Up – The safest way is to pick it up yourself, in silence.  A few things can happen. The person can see you and think twice on their own, someone else may see you and do the same or you clean up through your own motive, not judgment.

Rat ‘em Out – If someone litters in bulk then it is your duty to get their license plate, description, location or any other identifying features and report them to the police.

Local Shindig – Organize a local litter cleanup crew. Use social media to announce ‘Litter Cleanup Love-Ins’ and pick a different location each week or month.

Get Covert on Their Ass – Gather up a person’s litter, follow them home and dump it on their porch. If they live in a building, find out their apartment and mail them their trash.

Litterers come in all shapes and sizes. Be careful out there and don’t try to be a one-person litter stopping crusade. Teach by example, get others involved and stay out of harm’s way.


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