Post-Christmas Resolution, Day 345 – The High Costs Of Litter

“Litter clean up costs the U.S. more than an estimated $11.5 billion each year.”

Keep America Beautiful,

A bottle of vodka, a bottle of beer, and a bottle of water were just a few of the sundries I picked up tonight.

It was time for another neighborhood cleanup and although I gathered a garbage sack worth of trash, there probably would have far more if it wasn’t for one thing – The Oregon Bottle Bill of 1971. For people not familiar with the law, Oregon, nine other states, and most of Canada require a small deposit (5 cents in Oregon) on each recyclable carbonated drink container sold in the state. Refunds happen at any retailer that sells those beverages. It’s a small cash incentive to 1) not litter and 2) pick up litter in the streets.

It’s effective. Bottles and cans used to account for 40% of litter in this state, but now account for only 6%. In 2011, the list of drink containers with deposits was expanded. I look forward to seeing fewer containers in the ditches near my house.

Litter costs us in more ways than unsightly neighborhoods. According to this study, litter clean up costs amount to more than $11.5 billion annually in the United States with businesses picking up the tab for 80% of it. State and local governments expend about $1.3 billion and educational institutions spend $241 million. It can also reduce the appraisal value of a home if the neighborhood is littered.

Those costs don’t just disappear. They come back as higher costs for goods and higher taxes.

Litter isn’t someone else’s problem. It affects all of us. So the next time you see some garbage on the ground, put on some gloves and pick it up.


Cleaned up trash in the neighborhood. Also dropped an email to our Tigard city representative to see if there was a way to coordinate my cleanup efforts with other volunteers or the city. We’ll see what happens. 

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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4 Responses to Post-Christmas Resolution, Day 345 – The High Costs Of Litter

  1. Natalie says:

    I grew up with Woodsy the Owl who said “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.” What triggered your volunteerism in the area of litter, Eric?

  2. Eric Winger says:

    There wasn’t a particular event. I just started to notice it in my neighborhood and it looked ugly so I started picking it up. The more I picked up, the more I noticed, etc.

    This is my favorite story I’ve written about this year regarding trash. Not sure if you’ve already seen it. Have a great and trash-free day!–-a-trashy-story/

  3. Natalie says:

    Thanks for the link — I just checked out The Trashy Story and enjoyed it very much. “Trash trifecta” — excellent! I’m a sucker for alliteration. It’s really great that somebody got the barrel because of your litter-removing efforts — imagining you lugging the full bags all the way home….

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