Why is litter a problem?

Litter is an issue in every part of the world, and it's a growing problem. With the population increasing and our world becoming more about convenience and disposable items, our landfills, lakes, and roadways are filling up with discarded objects. 


There are several reasons why litter is a problem, but here's the short list:

  • Litter is unsightly - it reduces business and decreases property value
  • Litter is a hazard to wildlife - animals often mistake plastic pieces for food
  • Litter is a contaminant - garbage washes into our water sources, and who wants to drink cigarette butt water?
  • Litter is a hazard to humans - discarded syringes, broken glass, and toxic waste are the primary sources here
  • Litter is expensive - billions of tax dollars go towards litter cleanup around the world


So what are the main reasons why there is so much litter?

Litterbugs aren't 100% to blame. Check out the three W's below:


Animals frequently dig through garbage cans to try and find food, and they certainly aren't courteous enough to clean up their mess afterwards. The issue here is that many public garbage cans are open barrels and are easily accessed by animals. Even the closed garbage cans can be broken in to by clever animals looking for a snack. Residents putting their garbage out for collection too early is also a problem. The racoons are waiting!


The wind not only blows garbage out of public garbage cans but it also tips over recycling bins on garbage day. The issue is partly a design flaw, all recycling bins should have lids. Some municipalities have caught on but there are still thousands of communities that use the standard blue box. 


This is the biggest contributor to litter. Our use of single-use products is out of control. A majority of the litter picked up could be prevented if citizens used reusable items. Imagine a world without food wrappers, plastic beverage bottles, paper cups, plastic cutlery, and plastic straws. It might sound challenging, but we've lived without these things in the past and there are some amazing new replacements available today.

The biggest problem when it comes to litter is mindset, when we throw something in the garbage we instantly think that thing is gone, but it has to go somewhere. Our landfills are filling up fast and do we really want to waste more space creating more? At some point our planet will eventually become one giant landfill if we go that route. We need to change our behaviour if we want to live on a litter-free planet.

What can you do?

  • Take your litter home with you when visiting parks and beaches.
  • Put your garbage out as late as possible, not the night before collection.
  • Purchase a recycling bin with a lid. These are found at most hardware stores. 
  • Make snacks like cookies and granola bars at home. The ingredients still come in packaging but at least each serving isn't individually wrapped, plus they'll be healthier!
  • Bring a reusable cup everywhere! You can use it for water, coffee/tea, or even at take out restaurants that offer fountain drinks. 
  • Look for other reusable items - stainless steel straws and bamboo sporks are all the rage right now!