Why People Litter

Can in brush

Research has shown that the behavior trait of littering is complex and can be attributed to a variety of sources, including deliberate tossing of litter from vehicles, accidental litter from items blowing out of vehicles or from unsecured loads, and litter left behind by pedestrians.

One thing research has proven is that it is tough to label an individual as a “litterer.” One may litter in certain situations, but not in another. Littering is not a consistent behavior. Individuals can be influenced by a number of factors, including a belief that an item is not litter (such as a cigarette butt or banana peel), laziness, perceived lack of consequences for their actions, seeing litter already in a given area, or a lack of trash receptacles.

Recent research conducted by Keep America Beautiful finds that 81 percent of litter is intentional, typically occurring in places where litter has already accumulated. The remaining 19 percent of litter comes from debris blowing out of the backs of pickup trucks or other types of unsecured loads. Whether intentional or accidental, all litter is preventable.

Although the vast majority of people claim to want to live in a clean environment, more than 42 percent of Americans admit to littering in the past month. In Arizona, the most common offenders appear to be single men aged 18-34.

2016 Litter Evaluation Survey

2015 Litter Evaluation Survey

2014 Litter Evaluation Survey

2013 Litter Evaluation Survey

2013 Litter Evaluation Survey Supplemental

2012 Litter Evaluation Survey

2011 Litter Evaluation Survey

2010 Litter Evaluation Survey

2009 Litter Evaluation Survey

2008 Litter Evaluation Survey

2006 Litter Evaluation Survey