Editorial

Iowans weigh in on litter

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A recent survey of over 800 Iowans completed for Keep Iowa Beautiful (KIB) found that Iowan's have a high level of awareness of Keep Iowa Beautiful. The survey indicated that 55% of Iowans know about KIB.

The following are some additional points regarding litter issues:

*80% of Iowans feel that litter is a 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, cans and bottles of all types, plastic bags, tobacco products, tires, automotive items, construction material, and animal carcasses.

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

More than half of Iowans are not aware of the fines for people caught littering. About 52% answered by saying that the current fine is $100. Rural residents tend to have a higher level of knowledge of the fines.

When told the actual penalty of $70 and asked if they would favor an increase in penalties -- 68% of those surveyed indicated they would favor an increase in the penalty level. Younger Iowans tended 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.

The results of the survey indicate that KIB is in a position to accelerate efforts to aid in litter prevention and these would be supported by Iowans.

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."