Give up on the Litterers

Rebekah and I pick up the bus less than a block from our house in the Midway. As we were waiting this morning, I looked over to see a young woman (maybe a high schooler?) using a lint roller on her black pants. It made me smile because I’ve been there, we used to have a cat that shed like crazy, and now we deal with dog hair on a daily basis. Anyway, I looked back a few seconds later and saw four used lint roller papers sitting on the ground around this girl’s feet. I was immediately pissed off. I nudged Rebekah and told her that this girl had just thrown her lint roller papers on the ground. She looked at the girl and said “Excuse me, you dropped your trash on the floor.” The girl didn’t say anything, so I walked over, gave her my evil eye, picked up each piece and threw them away in the trash can that was sitting 10 feet away.

I want to scream! Who does that? I’ve always wondered what makes someone think it is o.k. to just throw trash wherever they feel like it. It’s easy to come up with a situation where it might be absolutely necessary to litter, or even to think about the many cases where a napkin or plastic bag is just blown away by the wind, but when you’re surrounded by people with a trash can in clear site? That doesn’t make any sense.

I don’t think it’s an issue of education. I believe that this girl understands the concept of littering, which really only leaves one explanation: she doesn’t care. So how can you stop littering if people just don’t care?

Explaining the effects of littering, how it’s polluting our environment, is not going to do it. I think for most people that’s too far removed from their day-to-day life. Plus how would you even do it? I’m already picking up Wal Mart bags and lint roller papers, I don’t want to be picking up anti-littering posters as well.

So the point of this post is mainly a chance for me to rant, but I would like to turn it into a discussion for ways to stop littering. I did a few google searches and was less than impressed with the stop littering campaigns I found. sells t-shirts. So does, based out of Tenessee, in addition to various signs, banners, and graphics. But I just don’t think this does anything to make people care. And maybe that’s the point, maybe it’s time to give up on the litterers. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. Issue steeper fines for littering – probably not going to help because I imagine that in areas like the Midway littering is the police’s last priority.
  2. Make the places that create the waste responsible – pressure the big companies (in my neighborhood it would be Wal Mart and Target) to spend their time and resources cleaning up the neighborhood.
  3. Create alternative ways to collect trash – this is a bit far fetched, but some sort of underground system (think a gutter to a sewer) to catch the trash being blown around.


  1. Good luck with getting people to care. “Apathy has rained on me/ Now I’m feeling like a soggy dream/ So close to drownin’ but I don’t mind.” -Green Day

    As far as your ideas go…
    1. Police state, yeah! Maybe we can have every person become narcs to rat out their fellow neighbors.
    2. Decent idea, at first thought, as long as the ‘resources’ aren’t coming from a shave in wages.
    3. Maybe we should all travel in tubes!!!

    - Russ (Nov 22, 2006)

  2. I think you should start a website called, and you would post pics of despicable litters and people could ‘point at them’ and ‘laugh,’ like digging but better.

    - Rich (Dec 13, 2006)

  3. totally agree w/ Rich – on the site, you could label people with a big ugly stamp-type thing. It could be good to do this for other offenses as well (such as water wasters, or horrible drivers, or people who don’t wash their hands) – but that’s just my personal rant-feeling of the day, and has nothing to do w/ littering, ha.

    - Lexi (Dec 13, 2006)

  4. Rett-roo,

    So my favorite anti-littering campaign would have to be Mississippi. Along the Interstate is a HUGE ass sign featuring a stern looking State Trooper (sunglasses on) saying, “I ain’t yo’ Momma. Pick it up, Mississippi!” I think something like that would go over great in MN…

    - Big Sister (Dec 21, 2006)

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