Iowans weigh in on litter

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Each year as spring slowly arrives and the snow begins to melt, we are struck by the presence of litter in too many areas where careless, thoughtless "consumers" have haphazardly tossed their trash.

The following are some points regarding litter issues:

*80% of Iowans feel that litter is problem.

*Even though 80% feel it is a problem statewide -- 66% of Iowans feel that it is a lesser problem in their community.

*Iowans feel that the primary sources of litter are:

Fast food / convenience store containers 53%
Cans and bottles of all types48%
Plastic bags26%
Tobacco products11%

Tires, automotive items, construction

material and animal carcasses9%

When people are asked which of these sources has the greatest impact on the landscape - fast food, convenience store containers, cups and packaging, plastic bags and tobacco products were considered to have a major negative impact on the environment.

More than half of Iowans are not aware of the fines for people caught littering. When told the actual penalty is $70 and asked if they would favor an increase in penalties -- 68% indicated they would favor an increase in the penalty level. Younger Iowans tend to be stronger in favoring an increase.

An estimated 70% of Iowans are familiar with the "Adopt A Road" program with little knowledge of any other anti-litter education efforts including a low level of knowledge of the litter hotline.

Litter and illegal dumping costs Iowans nearly $30 million dollars per year. Even with a small percentage of funding for education and public awareness efforts (supported by a potential increase in penalties) the return to Iowans would be extremely high in terms of the reduction of this $30 million cost.

In other words "an ounce of prevention can provide a pound of cure."