Bugging the Litter Bugs


Amanda Guillen, Managing Editor

Growing up I was always known to be the uptight, prissy and spotless little girl. Now at 21-years-old, and not much has changed.

This all seems to be irrelevant when talking about the Earth, but it actually has led to what I think has changed the course of my life and how I influence others.

My most hated enemies besides awful drivers are litter bugs.

As dramatic as this may sound, I literally am repulsed by people who litter. I do not understand why they think this is acceptable.

The Earth, no matter where you live, is beautiful and gives you a place to live. So why would people mistreat it?

Going back to my youth I remember the lessons my parents taught me. Be respectful, love others, say please and thank you and pick up after yourself. 

Wherever we would go, I would always make sure to collect whatever trash I had and throw it in the trashcan, and, yes, even gum!

I realized that although I was paranoid about litter, some of my friends and other humans weren’t phased by it. In fact, they even contributed to the debacle. 

So the question presents itself, are litter bugs raised or are they born?

A 2009 National Visible Litter Survey and Litter Cost Study found that litter clean up costs the U.S. more than an estimated $11.5 billion each year. 

On average, the people who are most likely to deliberately litter range from 18-34 years old.

The cost itself is enough to cover other costs like aiding to education, assistance programs and could even contribute to helping our nation out of debt.

Instead, an excessive amount of money goes to cleaning up after people who don’t know what a trash can is. 

Initiatives like Keep America Beautiful and Don’t Mess with Texas have all made an effort to reduce littering and inform and educate the public on the harm it causes.

It is estimated that since 1969, visible roadside litter has decreased by 61 percent, but the study states that litter and littering behavior remains “a persistent and costly problem.”   

When looking at the study and comparing it with my own experience, it is clear that litter bugs are not born or raised—they are created by a society that has shrugged its shoulders for too long.

Instead of spending money to clean up the problem, more of the money should be spent on educating the uneducated.

Amanda Guillen may be reached at [email protected].