What is Litter?
Litter is any product or material that is lying around on our highways, parks, beaches or streets that doesn't belong there.
A recent litter audit from a large, Canadian city found that litter can be any of a wide range of items, such as:
- Miscellaneous paper or cardboard;
- Printed paper material (like newspapers, flyers, bus transfers, etc.);
- Pieces of plastic packaging;
- Foil materials;
- Candy bar wrappers;
- Cups, lids, pieces of both;
- Tobacco/cigarette butts;
- Soft drink containers;
- Gum wrappers;
- Bottle caps;
- And many, many more other kinds of items.
Litter is not limited to any one material or item, as the above list demonstrates. It might have:
- Fallen off of a truck;
- Been blown there by the wind; and
- Been tossed there carelessly by us.
The type of litter tends to vary, depending on where you are. For example, litter found on beaches comes from a number of sources.
- Holiday-makers or picnicking people on the beach bring a large amount of disposable items like newspapers, cigarettes, and packaging for food and drinks. When these items are taken home after use or put in a bin, no litter is created but if they are not disposed of responsibly – maybe because the wind caught it when the waste bin was already full or someone carelessly tossed it aside – waste becomes litter.
- Some coastal litter can come from other places. For example, the litter that has been washed ashore by ocean currents could come from other beaches or from illegal dumping on the water. While some litter will rot over time, much of it remains unless it is collected and removed.
In addition to being unsightly and unpleasant to look at, litter can also damage our environment. It is unsanitary and dangerous. It can be a carrier of disease and cause injury to people who don't see it.