Why Do People Litter?

From the left, Brayden Lynch, Grandmother Cait Moloney and Callen Lynch braved the cold and rain to pick up litter along roads during the Lions Pitch-In.

Westport Lions Roar

By Lion Bob Reddick

It was a cold, wet day but 10 brave souls defied the elements to pick up litter along area roads on Saturday, April 29.

Research shows that litter affects people’s feelings of well-being and safety. It ruins people’s experiences when walking, biking, boating, hiking, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing. Animals suffer too. Trash can spread disease and cause dietary and internal problems for animals. 

Two of the youngest participants in the Westport Lions Pitch-In initiative were Brayden age six, and his brother Callen Lynch age three.   Together with their mother Devon Lynch and their grandmother Cait Maloney, they had a family outing picking up litter along local roads.

Even at their young age, the Lynch boys are no strangers to helping their grandmother Cait with her volunteer service.  During the summer, they both help their grandmother clean the washrooms and pick up garbage at the Lions beach.

By noon, everyone was cold, wet, and hungry and thankful that Lion Marty Hawkins had lunch prepared when the crew returned to the clubhouse.  Brayden didn’t like sausages, so he placed baked beans in his bun and declared, “This is the best sandwich I’ve had in my life.”  Even though it was gloomy outside the two boys were rays of sunshine for the other volunteers.

It is well documented that families including grandparents that work and play together develop cohesiveness and greater emotional support for each other.  Spending time as a family volunteering is win-win situation for everyone.  Young people learn the importance of volunteering and feeling good about their contributions to the community.

It is the hope of the Pitch-In organizers that people take a minute to consider the

impact they have on the community by tossing their garbage out a vehicle window.

Why do people litter?  Carelessness and laziness are the main reasons people throw rubbish anywhere without thinking about the consequences of their actions. Many people do not realize or underestimate the negative impacts of littering on the environment. People believe that their actions will not harm society. Perhaps they believe that others will clean up after them. 

The answer to the problem is a change in attitude. If we could convince people not to litter, our quality of life would increase, and it would put money in our pockets. How many people have mentioned to you that one of the things they enjoy about Canada is how clean it is?  

Organizing a day or a couple of weeks of picking up garbage is not a solution to the problem of littering. How do we get people not to throw out their plastic water bottles, coffee cups, cigarette butts, pop and beer cans and garbage on the street or out the window of their vehicle? 

What are some possible solutions? Education is a vital tool to help reduce littering. Educating adults and children on the proper disposal of trash and the detrimental effects caused by littering is vital to help reduce litter.

Please take a small garbage bag in your vehicle to place litter in and dispose of it with your home garbage.

Make sure your trash is secure. Lightweight waste materials often blow away before they can be placed in receptacles and often blow out of vehicles and the backs of trucks. 

Participate in community clean-up days. What better way to teach your kids or your grandchildren the importance of keeping our environment clean?

Recycling materials instead of littering can save natural resources, landfill space, energy, and clean air and water. This will benefit both your local community and the overall environment. The most numerous items found in ditches are beer cans, plastic water bottles and paper coffee cups.

The ideal way to handle the problem of littering is for each member of society to take responsibility and try their best to properly dispose of waste. The presence of existing garbage acts like a trigger and gives the impression that it’s the right place to litter. As the existing debris attracts more litter, removing garbage frequently and promptly may help to discourage people from littering. So, the next time you are about to toss litter or leave garbage in a public space, please take a second to think of the consequences.  

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