Littering Statistics in America

Did you know that the annual cost of picking up litter is over $11 billion dollars? Littering is something that many people admit to doing when they are in a rush, but the impact of that decision to litter is often not realized. The trash that you could be leaving out in nature could be catching up with you right now!

Littering Facts

Nearly 50% of all littering is from cigarette butts.

Think about all the chemicals that are in a cigarette. Now think about what the purpose of the filter on a cigarette does – it removes the worst of the worst of the cigarette so it doesn’t go into your body. Then this remaining filter is flicked onto the ground where these compounds can leak into the dirt, the ground water, and even our rivers and streams!

How Much Litter Does the World Produce?

1. In the last year alone, 9 billion tons of litter was dumped into the world’s oceans.
2. 75% of people, when surveyed, admitted that they littered at least once within the last 5 years.
3. The average amount of steps it takes for someone to find a piece of litter on the ground is just 12. That’s right – every 12 steps outside, you’ll find a piece of trash.

Takeaway: A lot has been said about climate change, but not a lot has been said about littering. If we allow our trash to pile up, we’re going to destroy our local eco-systems just as quickly, if not more quickly than climate change can. That’s what it is so important to pack out what you pack in… or to dispose of some litter when you come across it. Most importantly, however, just don’t litter in the first place!

Other Sobering Litter Statistics

1. Fast food products account for a full third of all litter that is produced around the world. That includes the food itself and the packaging materials.
2. Paper products account for 29% of the world’s litter, a product which quite often is fully recyclable.
3. It takes a cigarette butt 12 years to full decompose. On the other hand, it takes a banana peel just 12 days to do so.
4. 95% of farmers today have at some point had to clear litter off of their farmlands that they themselves did not produce.
5. 98% of the fulmars in the North Sea, a seabird, have plastic within their digestive tracts.
6. It is not uncommon for turtles to eat plastic bags that have been discarded into the water because they look like jellyfish.
7. Nearly 100 billion plastic bags are used in the United States alone and a discarded plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years on estimate to decompose.

Takeaway: It’s up to us to take care of our planet. The animals, the plants, and yes, even ourselves require our responsible management of nature so that it can be preserved for the generations to come. Without litter management, we may not even have a planet left in a few generations… or if we do, we’ll be spending a vast fortune to clean up the messes we’ve made.

Impact of Litter on Ocean Life

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