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girl swimming in water with litter
We all want our communities to look attractive and  have safe, enjoyable  recreational spaces. Littering is a surefire way to make our communities unattractive, degrade water quality and siphon the fun out of recreational experiences.
Improve your community — STOP LITTERING!

The Impact of Litter on Water

Candy wrappers, cups, cigarette butts and other items on the ground beside a trail, entangled in tree branches or floating in the water can wash away the enjoyment of spending time with your friends and family in your favorite recreational space. Litter on streets and in parking lots washes into storm sewers that lead to rivers and streams. Litter generally takes years to breakdown and sometimes leeches toxic chemicals into the water supply.
Most people know that littering is wrong, but do nothing about it. Here are things you can do individually and together with your community to help end littering.


  • Get your butts in the trash. Many people don’t think of cigarette butts as litter, but they are. In fact, cigarette butts are the most littered item on U.S. roadways — 38%! Help combat litter by carrying a portable ashtray and disposing of cigarette butts properly.
  • Toss what? With today’s on-the-go lifestyle, it’s easy to eat and drink in your car, but don’t let that be an excuse to throw fast-food containers, candy wrappers and cups on the ground or out of the window. Keep a small trash bag handy in your car for garbage to help keep litter off the roadways.
  • Pick it up. Public spaces are just that — they belong to everyone. Local governments try to keep parks, trails and other public spaces clean, but at a cost to taxpayers. Instead of relying on others to clean up litter, you can participate in river and conservation group clean-up events and do your part to protect the environment. See list below.
  • Deter the litterbugs. People are less likely to litter in communities where litter is not the norm. Start beautification programs in your community that include litter brigades. Contact your local public works office for resources to install trash and recycling receptacles in your neighborhood, in recreational spaces and along trails.

 More resources

Stream and River Organizations

Remember, if it’s on the ground, it’s in our water.