What is the motivation of a litterer?

Scratched-off lottery tickets, too many plastic drinking containers and beverage cans to count, two mismatched gloves, a piece of a fender, cigarette containers, cigarette butts, plastic bags, newspapers, an un-tethered campaign sign, a small plastic glow-in-the-dark skull, kids scissors, fast food bags, Styrofoam containers and packing material = litter found on the side of the road during my 4 mile jog one morning a few weeks ago.

I have posted about my dislike of litter several times before.  In my opinion, if “they” (whoever they are) are strong enough to drink it, wear it, eat it, smoke it, use it, read it or scratch it, then they are strong enough to make sure it gets in the garbage.

But litter still wafts out car windows and weekly or sometimes bi-weekly, I get a bag and pick up the trash that lines both sides of my street from the front of my house to the end of the road.  It’s not a large area I am taking care of, but at least the view for a short stretch of road is clean.  I’ve been considering expanding my “area” a bit in my quest for a clean environment, but I haven’t set aside the time to do that yet.

garbageSo here’s my thought.  If I could figure out what makes people litter, perhaps I could somehow put an end to the problem itself so I no longer have to pick up after other people. At the very least, on the street where I live. There are only two explanations I could come up with for why someone would litter: apathy and laziness. So really the question is – what can I do to address this?  I was thinking some crazy thoughts about electrical zappers lining the roads which would zap the persons arm the moment they opened the window and made a throwing motion. Or what about some sort of tire shredders that came out the the pavement the second a piece of garbage landed on the road (perfectly placed though so the correct car would “get it”). Or what about bright lights and sirens that would go off in the driver’s face when they threw stuff out of the car? Or what about big weatherproof cutouts of policemen that would “boing” up from the pavement right in front of the car? .

OK, ok, those are not good suggestions. But what are? Classes in schools? Catching litterers and making them clean up a specific road? Enacting laws that severerly fine trash throwers? Writing letters to the editors weekly so people would eventually pay attention? Place big noticeable garbage pails on every road that say “TRASH HERE?”  Just clean it up myself? Maybe while wearing a bright red shirt that says “picking up after other people?”

There is a serious litter problem in my area, and I’m not sure how to address it.  Thoughts welcome.


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