Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Litter is small debris and trash scattered on the ground as opposed to properly disposed of, for example dropped into a dustbin. It can be located in urban or rural areas, but usually refers to waste scattered along roadsides.
The act of littering is considered a fineable offense in many places. Because litter is unsightly and expensive to clean up, some places like California have fines that start at $1000 (USD) per offense and go up from there. Such fines are often prominently posted on roadside signs.
Some jurisdictions offer small bounties for the cleaning of litter (for example, requiring people to pay a deposit on bottles, which is only returned when the bottles are returned).
Blame for litter
Litter is often blamed on certain groups and people by society. The most common blames given are fast food companies, smokers, and younger people as well as natural causes such as wind. A lot of litter is a result of laziness to find a litter bin or ignorance of the law.
Fast food companies serve food in disposable packaging rather than on reusable plates. While cleanup of packaging is encouraged, much of the packaging from drive-thrus and takeaways end up as litter.
Smokers are also blamed since large amounts of cigarette stubs end up as litter. They are also a fire risk if not put out properly. Many litter bins have ashtrays on them to reduce cigarette litter.
Effects on the environment
Litter can have many effects on the environment. Animals may get trapped or poisoned with litter in their habitats. Litter can end up in rivers and canals, polluting the water supply. Vermin and disease are rife in places with high amounts of litter. It can spoil the looks of beautyspots. It is also a road hazard and can cause accidents.
Costs of litter
Litter is a costly problem. Many companies employ litter pickers to keep litter off their premises. City councils also have to spend taxpayer money on litter removal. Money from fines usually goes to fund litter removal. Roadsweeper machines to clean litter are expensive, noisy and cause more pollution.
In some areas in the US, sections of roads and highways (usually about a mile) can be "adopted" by a company or group. The sponsor either sends volunteers or hires people to clean the section of roadway. Also, imprisoned convicts are used in some areas to clean roadway trash as part of their repaying their debt to society.
Fines by state
Other meanings of litter
- A litter is the term used to describe the birth of group of mammals from a single mother, such as dogs and cats.
- A litter is a chair mounted on a platform and designed to be carried from place to place (holding its occupant) under human power. See: Sedan chair.
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