Review: Littering Behavior in America: Results of a Keep America Beautiful National Study

Keep America Beautiful

Review by: Maureen Atkinson

keep america beautifulFor anyone who is looking for statistics on littering, this is an important resource. Its methodology is scientific including both observational research as well as interviews. This split methodology is important because littering is not socially acceptable so what people say in interviews and what they do in practice can be very different. With almost 10,000 observations and over 1,000 telephone interviews, the sample is robust enough to reassure the quality of the data.

Important for downtown organizations that are wrestling with litter is the fact that while context matters (e.g. availability of trash containers and ash receptacles) in the majority of cases it is the person’s attitude towards litter that determines whether they will drop that butt or paper. The greatest predictors of littering behaviour are age of the individual, availability and distance of receptacle and the amount of litter in the area.

While this is not a study that is going to tell you a lot that you do not know about littering, it does give some valuable statistics and should help downtown organizations focus their efforts and show the value of what they are currently doing.

Click here to download copies of the Executive Summary and research.