Have you ever noticed one small piece of litter on the ground? While it may not seem like much, that tiny bit of trash can lead to a big problem. According to Keep America Beautiful (KAB), people are much more likely to litter if they see other trash on the ground. So once an area has a little bit of litter, more and more litter will appear there until there is a nasty pile.
Litter doesn’t just look messy; it can actually harm animals, people, and our planet. Too much litter leads to flooding and water pollution and costs a lot of money to clean up. So that one candy wrapper on the playground can become one big problem!
Help clean it up
According to KAB’s website, “To ensure a greater impact in 2023, we will increase our emphasis on separating and recycling the materials collected during the Great American Cleanup…In particular, we will focus on collecting the most littered item, cigarette butts, and recycling them using a new cleanup kit that includes a canister for cigarette waste, complete with instructions on mailing them in to be recycled.”
Here are some ways to prevent litter before it appears:
- Don’t litter! Avoid throwing gum, candy wrappers, drink cups, plastic bottles, and other items onto the ground. Instead, look for trash and recycling bins. If you don’t see them, carry your trash and recycling with you. Then, when you get to your car or home, you can put it in the right place — the trash can or recycling bin.
- Pick up litter. If your friends are playing basketball in the driveway, ensure all trash and recyclables end up where they belong. Pick up litter that others drop on your lawn. At parks and sporting events, be sure that your sports teams and friends leave the area at least as clean as you found it — if not cleaner.
- When you take your trash or recyclables to the curb, ensure the lids are closed on the containers or carts. If your containers don’t have lids, be sure to put lightweight items underneath heavier things so nothing blows out.
- Organize a litter cleanup at a nearby school, a park, or your neighborhood. See if a local KAB affiliate can help to supply trash bags and gloves. Pick a day and invite your friends, neighbors, teammates, and relatives. Remind everyone to wear gloves so their hands don’t get cut or dirty. If you are near a road or parking lot, make sure adults are near any kids, and wear bright or light colors or safety vests so drivers can see and avoid you. Provide bags for trash and recyclables. Remember to properly recycle or dispose of everything when you are done. And don’t forget to thank everyone for helping!
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