Littering Affecting Our Environment

Table of Content

Littering is trash, such as paper, cans, and bottles, that is left lying in an open or public place. About 75% of Americans have admitted to littering within the past two to five years. Littering is one of the MAIN reasons our sewers and drains get clogged up and affect our water and how it comes out. When we litter, we never realize how much it affects the water, and area around us.

When I was younger and knew nothing about nature, and the environment nor really cared. I littered out of the window very often or just threw my trash on the ground at the park. One day my mom caught me littering out of the window and she said “ I am about to show you what happens every time you litter.” She ended up taking me to a lake/river that she knew of, and it was filled with trash including, cups, straws, paper plates, to-go boxes, and more! She told me that everytime I litter this is where it goes and one day this river will fill up with trash that every other person throws out of their window, or at the park. After my mother showed me this, I realized that this is not how our world should look, we should not have to be afraid that our water will be contaminated with trash, when we could be the solution to our own problems. The planet gives us what we give it!

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This paper will go over why littering is bad for our economy. It will also discuss why reduce, reuse, and recycle is very important! This paper will also give better ways to get rid of trash instead of through the window. In this world we have to take care of our things and if we do not, we are stuck with the consequences of what we do.

Discussion 1: Why is Littering Bad for the Economy?

As far as littering effects are concerned, it has an economic, legal environmental impact in the form of spending millions of dollars cleaning up litter, or a huge fine if you are caught littering from your vehicle. There is a given list of astonishing facts about littering. According to the article, 20 Astonishing Facts About Littering, 1) Litter does cause severe accidents. All that it takes is for some trash that is patiently on the road waiting for something to happen. No matter what car you may be driving you can directly cause a car accident by littering. 2) It is illegal. Though fines vary by state , city and county: you will be charged if you are caught. 3) It does not look too nice, places that have high littering are often riddled with crime, less value for home and poverty, and are more likely to be to the site of fires. 4) Household waste, industrial waste, construction waste and other like packaging waste are most common types of litter. 5) It is very expensive! Every year millions and millions of dollars are spent to clean up litter. This money should be going to more productive things It is not noticed that something as small as littering can make such a big change and have a big cost.

There is an island of trash about two times the size of Texas floating in the pacific ocean! Texas is a big state so imagine two of them filled and covered with litter. Litter stops the movement of water in oceans, rivers, and lakes. Doing this damages the life of the sea animals , such as turtles, fish, dolphins, and many other sea life creatures. Trash can contain different diseases as well, that can be passed through the water and between animals that may eat it. Animals can mistake litter for food which can cause serious illnesses and lead to death. If trash continues to sit in water it will become contaminated, once the water may begin to evaporate anything that was in that water and is now in the air. Of course when our environment is contaminated it can cause us to have breathing problems as well. We breathe this air every time we walk outside so it is very important we try and keep from littering to keep clean air.

Another form of littering that affects us is Cigarette littering. Even though in the past decade smoking cigarettes has decreased a decent amount the littering problem still remains. The overall rate of littering cigarettes is 65%, and that is a tremendous amount. Cigarettes may be small but when they are constantly thrown everyday by a great amount of people in the world, it can make a huge impact on the environment. Some people do not even consider throwing cigarette butts to be littering because of how small they are. As known cigarettes are lit with fire so in a case where someone does not completely put out the fire can cause fire hazards and make an impact on local wildlife. Cigarette butt littering is more influenced by our environment than any general littering. For every ash receptacle (a container or device to keep “leftover” cigarettes or cigarette butts in), the littering rate for cigarettes decrease about maybe 9%.

As mentioned earlier, the cost of littering is very expensive, more than anyone could have thought of. The 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study list that the litter clean up in the United States is almost more than $11.5 billion each year. Some business pay up to $9.1 billion of the cost or almost 80% of the littering cost. Litter removal is often a hidden cost with employee expenses or other project which may make it difficult to determine an actual cost for that government. Counties, states, cities, etc together expend $1.3 billion on the litter abatement. Litter is mostly a cost that is hidden from the employee expense because it is difficult to actually make an accurate amount of money to the local government(s). Institutions that are educational spend $241 million for just litter cleanup, but just as before these cost are also not provided in the budget line or the local government.

In Texas, if a person is caught littering the offender could be fined up to $500. A person that has repeatedly been littering could have a fine up to $2,000 plus up to 180 days of jail time. 1 in 4 Texans admit to have been littering in the past years. In Texas the most common forms of litter are food/organic materials, cigarette butts, and small paper such as: receipt paper, gum wrappers, candy wrappers, etc. 71% of the litter in Texas consists of microlitter that can not be seen easily on the roads. 62% of Texas smokers admit to tossing their cigarette butts out of the window of their cars. Lastly tobacco trash is the most common form of litter found on Texas roadways. We get our most common slogan “Don’t mess with Texas,” from the concerns of litter, general population, and keeping our state beautiful and clean (Don’t mess with Texas: Littering Facts, 2018).

Discussion 2: Let Us Make it Better, Reduce. Reuse, and Recycle!

Now it maybe in some of your minds “what do the three R’s have to do with littering?”, or some may already know. The things that are thrown out of the window, on the street, or on the ground usually consume of paper, cups, plastic, foil, and so many other things, and these things can always be used again to make more supplies that we can actually use. The statistics are that Americans throw away about 50 billion food and drink cans, 27 billion glass bottles and jars, and 65 million plastic and metal jar and can covers. 30% or more of waste can and should be used as packaging materials.

Reducing the amount of waste that is produced is a good way to help our environment. Reuse instead of throwing items away, think about how these items can go back into good use instead of wasting them. Recycle paper bags, cans of soda, milk cartons and even water bottles are all made out of certain materials that be reused and recycled over and over again.

When we recycle items that get put through the machine process of being able to be used again. These older materials are turned into new ones quickly so that they are not going to waste. By buying products that are known to be recyclable items can also help our environment. To know whether something is able to be recycled read the labels on the can, bottles, or whatever it may be and it will inform you if this item is eligible to go to the recycle bin and be reused. The cities we live in provide us with two bins, one for trash, and the other one for recycle. If living in an apartment it is also provided bigger dumpsters or recycle bins that can be used frequently!

According to the Recycling Guide there is a whole process on how paper is recycled, first the paper is taken from the recycle bin and put in to a large container along with paper from other bins. Second, the paper is taken to the recycling plant here it is separated into different types and grades of the paper. Third, the paper that has been separated is now going to be washed with a soapy water to remove, ink, plastic film, staples, etc. This paper is put into a holder where it will be mixed with water to create “slurry”. Slurry is a semi liquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water, but in this case the paper is in this semi liquid.By adding the different materials to the slurry, the new paper products can be made, like cardboard, newspaper, copy paper, or office paper. The slurry is then spread by using larger rollers and turning it into thin sheets. Lastly, the paper will be left to dry and then rolled up and get ready to be shipped out and cut into the paper it needs to be cut into. Once they are cut and sized they will get sent to shops to be shipped out once again.

There a couple of ways we can prevent people from littering. People who are educated on litter can set an example for others who do not know the effects. By setting an example, do not throw your litter out of the car or out of the window, if others see you taking this action in littering they may feel as if it is okay to do so themselves (Wikihow, par. 1.) If seeing someone litter ,let them know that one piece of trash they just threw out is adding to the others that have also been thrown out and is adding to the problems of our environment. Educate others on how to get rid of trash the correct way (Wikihow, par. 2). Explain the law of littering to fellow friends and family members. Some people do forget that littering is against the law and if they are caught doing so a fine can be issued to them and it will have to be paid for by a form of payment or by community service (Wikihow, par. 4.). That community service includes cleaning up public and even private roads and places that contain a lot of litter. It is also forgotten that one of the hidden taxes employers pay for also goes to littering, that is important to know, people will now know they can have a little more money on their paychecks if they did not litter! (Wikihow, par. 5.). Confronting people is NOT a good way to stop littering, you never know what is going on with that person, one day they will learn how much littering is effective (Wikihow, par. 3.).


Littering should not be such a problem, we should know how much it affects our environment. We see it with our own eyes, on the news, social media, tv, and more. We become blind to it because some of us do not care enough to be the ones to make that change. People will continue to litter if they believe that the government, or other people will take responsibility of cleaning everything up. Once people start reading upon littering it will come to reality that “private” taxes are taken away from us because the government, educations, and businesses have to pay for this litter to be cleaned and picked up.

Reduce, reuse, recycle, it is important that we continue to use these three steps that all of us possibly learned in elementary school! That one piece of trash, plastic, or paper that is being thrown out of the car or put into the wrong place will make a difference. When put in the right place, we save money and time from being wasted on something that could have been prevented from the beginning. Whatever we can not use to recycle should be thrown away safely as well, do not spend your time throwing things where they do not belong when we have public trash cans and even trash cans at home. When everything is put in the right place it is now the responsibility of the workers to get it where it needs to be in order for us to reuse it again or even when not reused for it to end up in the right trash, like landfills.

I have to agree with environmental researches when they say that we are the solutions to our problems. We end up having to suffer from consequences that could have been prevented if we just knew how much it would have affected us then and how it affects us now. Look around you, make a difference, show that you care what happens where you live or where you are from. If we took as much time out of our day picking up trash instead of throwing it imagine how much we would be doing. The air that we breathe is important, the green grass is important, clean water is important, everyday things that we use or need are important and can be affected by litter if we do not take action upon it. If every person in the world could just pick up 2-4 pieces of trash everyday, week, month we could have cleaner highways, lakes, rivers and more.

The rain that hit North Texas very hard in October provided a lot of flooding problems in our area and nearby lakes. The trail along the Lewisville Lake has a large amount of trash as well as the recreation centers and parks. Our city is hosting a cleanup event at 9am to noon on December 8th, where we can all come together and help clean up the trash around the lake. With everything that has happened in nearby cities, the floods can bring a lot of trash along with it. If we come together we can clean up a huge mess and save our environment from more risk.

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Littering Affecting Our Environment. (2022, Feb 12). Retrieved from

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