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A Guide to Preventing Unintentional Litter in Your Community

litter piled up as overflow to a dumpster

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by New Jersey Clean Communities.

Littering is a pervasive issue that affects communities worldwide, contributing to environmental degradation and detracting from the overall aesthetic appeal of neighborhoods. While all forms of litter are a concern, focusing on easy fixes to unintentional litter can make immediate, positive impacts. Let’s explore practical measures to prevent unintentional litter.

Securing Your Bin

One of the primary sources of unintentional litter in residential areas is improperly secured bins. Wind, animals, and other factors can easily tip over bins and scatter their contents across the neighborhood. To address this issue, consider the following tips:

  1. Use Bin Lids:

Ensure that your garbage and recycling containers have secure lids. Lids help contain the contents, preventing them from being dispersed by wind or scavenging animals.

  1. Weight Down Your Bin:

Place a heavy object, such as a brick or a bag of sand, in the bottom of your bin. This added weight can help stabilize the bin and reduce the likelihood of it tipping over. This is not something we want people to do as we will have bricks in recycling.  maybe put a brick on the lid? 

  1. Secure Bin Bags:

If you use plastic bags for your garbage, tie them securely before placing them in the bin. This prevents the contents from spilling out if the bag is accidentally torn.

  1. Overflowing Bins:

Improperly secured trash cans and overflowing bins can all contribute to unintentional litter. When too much trash is piled up on or around bins, or when bins fall over, chances are, a lot of those items will turn into litter debris.

  1. Proper Bin Placement:

Position your bins in a sheltered area, away from open spaces where strong winds can easily knock them over. Where possible, place bins on a flat surface to minimize the risk of toppling.

Covering Loads on Trucks

Highway litter is often a consequence of improperly secured loads on trucks and trailers. Loose debris flying off moving vehicles poses a danger to other motorists and contributes to roadside pollution. To prevent highway litter, truck drivers and individuals transporting loads can follow these guidelines:

  1. Tarp It Up:

When transporting materials in an open truck bed or trailer, use a sturdy tarp to cover the load completely. Make sure the tarp is securely fastened to prevent any items from escaping during transit.

  1. Secure Heavy Items:

Place heavy items at the bottom of the load and secure them tightly. Be sure to secure all additional items to prevent them from being carried away by wind. For loads containing smaller loose materials, use durable straps or bungee cords to secure all items tightly.

  1. Properly Loaded Trailers:

Ensure that items in the trailer or truck bed are loaded evenly and compactly. Distribute the weight evenly to prevent shifting during transit, reducing the likelihood of items dislodging and becoming litter on the highway. A well-balanced load not only enhances safety but also minimizes the risk of debris escaping.

  1. Regular Inspection:

Before hitting the road, inspect your load to ensure everything is securely fastened. Periodically check the load during transit to address any issues promptly.

  1. Educate and Encourage:

Spread awareness about the importance of covering loads on trucks among businesses, transportation companies, and individuals. Encourage responsible practices to create a collective commitment to preventing highway litter.

In Conclusion

Preventing unintentional litter requires a combination of individual responsibility and community awareness. By securing bins, and lids, and covering loads on trucks, we can significantly reduce the impact of unintentional litter in our neighborhoods and on our highways. Taking these simple yet effective steps contributes to a cleaner, more sustainable environment for everyone. Remember, a small effort from each individual can lead to a big difference for the community as a whole.