City of Miramar Anti-Litter Campaign
If you were around in the '70s, you likely remember the "Keep America Beautiful" ad campaign, made famous by the crying Native American. It was a powerful message at the time and half a century later, we're still fighting to keep America – and Miramar, Florida – beautiful.
The City of Miramar's anti-litter campaign includes installing trash and recycling receptacles throughout the city to bring awareness, promote community activism and to make it easy to dispose of trash.
Facts About Littering
In 2020, Keep America Beautiful issued its National Litter Study, which included surveys and studies about littering in the United States. Here are some key takeaways:
- 50 billion: Pieces of litter along US roadways and waterways
- 25.9 billion: Litter pieces along 10.7 million miles of waterways
- 23.7 billion: Litter pieces along 8.3 million miles of roadways
- 152: Pieces of litter for every person living in the US
- 2,000: Pieces of litter per mile
- 90%: Number of surveyed US citizens who say litter is a problem in their states
- 87.9%: Percentage of litter that's smaller than 4 inches
Why Littering Is Bad
Littering is bad for numerous reasons.
As you know, tourism is one of the most significant economic resources for South Florida. Tourism in Florida accounts for 6% of our real estate, 14% of our employment, and 15% of sales tax collection (Source: td.com).
When friends and family visit on vacation, or when organizations look for venues for conferences and events, Florida is one of the top destinations. We take pride in all the natural beauty Florida has to offer, and we all need to keep our city clean and free from cluttered garbage and waste.
Communities that are riddled with litter may experience lower property values, as well. One survey found that 93% of homeowners believe a littered neighborhood would decrease their homes' values, and 40% said it would decrease a home's value by 10% to 24%.
The effects of littering on the environment are well documented by groups like Keep America Beautiful and the EPA.
10 Reasons Why You Should Not Litter
You shouldn't litter because it's wrong. Properly disposing of trash and waste is, simply, the right thing to do. Need more reasons? Here are 10!
- Clean-up costs are astounding – According to kab.org, litter clean-up costs in the U.S. are more than an estimated $11.5 billion yearly. Not to mention what litter can do to your property value. It's estimated that debris in a community decreases property value by nearly 7%.
- Litter's significant impact on wildlife – Eating litter can cause animals to become extremely ill or even die. It could be toxic if they mistake cleaners, plastic, latex, or household waste for food. Roadside litter is especially dangerous. Food tossed from a car could bring birds or animals too close to traffic to eat, leading to them being hit by cars.
- Oceans are in big trouble – You've probably heard about the incredible amount of plastic harming the world's oceans. Things are so bad that a few years ago, National Geographic said more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic debris were in the ocean. Some debris floats on the surface, while most litter is found in the deep sea. Those numbers were from 2015, and things have gotten worse. These plastics can harm ocean wildlife in many ways, including ingestion and destroying the ecosystem.
- Litter could cause car accidents – Really! Litter can lead to car accidents. A little trash on the road can force someone to swerve and collide with another vehicle. For Florida's motorcyclists, road litter is especially dangerous.
- It's illegal – Florida Statute section 403.413 is known as the “Florida Litter Law.” It lists prohibited behaviors, including littering, and describes the potential consequences for violations. Not littering is not only the right thing to do, it's also the law. If you get caught littering, it could cost you big time. Not only could you be fined for littering, but cases of littering more than 15 pounds, not exceeding 500 pounds, and not for commercial purposes are considered a first-degree misdemeanor. That could cost you a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Instances of more than 500 pounds or any quantity for commercial purposes can be charged with a third-degree felony, fined $5,000 and up to five years in jail. It's no joke. All law enforcement officers are expected to enforce litter laws, including local police, the sheriff's office, highway patrol and Florida Fish and Wildlife officers.
- Littering doesn't only impact animals – Discarded plastic can affect human health and safety, too. Beach goers could step on dangerously sharp debris or get entangled in nets while scuba diving. Another danger is when people improperly dispose of medical waste, which could spread infectious diseases.
- Wildfires and environmental contamination – It's estimated that one-third of existing litter is composed of tobacco products. Not only is that gross, but it's dangerous. Lit cigarettes tossed without care can cause wildfires. Toxic chemicals found in cigarettes can also contaminate the environment. If animals eat them, they can be poisoned.
- Diminished water quality – Litter can ultimately hurt your drinking water. Hazardous waste can seep into the soil, causing groundwater pollution.
- Litter can lower quality of life – Not only is litter a visual nuisance, but it can be smelly. Who wants to live in an area with the disgusting aroma of unwanted trash?
- Bacteria, germs and viruses - These are all results of harmful litter and can devastate the environment, including crops.
How to Help: Combat Litter Bugs
One way to help is by participating in Miramar's Adopt a Street Campaign. It invites everyone to be a catalyst through active community participation to keep the city beautiful and more environmentally friendly. This program builds civic pride by beautifying city streets and neighborhoods, decreasing litter and other pollutants, and helping protect water quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also has tips for preventing littering. Here are some suggestions:
- Put your trash in a bin.
- Take trash with you if no bin is available.
- Keep a bag in your car to collect garbage.
- Put cigarette butts in a butt bin or ordinary bin when extinguished.
- Have a container in your vehicle to collect cigarette butts.
- Buy less packaging and use reusable containers.
FAQs About Littering
Why do people litter?
There is no justification for littering. Some people simply don't care. Others might do it because they're lazy (leaving behind picnic trash after a day at the beach, for example). There is also the excuse that there was nowhere to put trash, which the city of Miramar is addressing by putting more public trash and recycling containers throughout the city. No excuses!
How does littering affect humans?
Financially, littering takes a toll on a community by deterring visitors and businesses, as well as potentially lowering property values by about 7% (NAHB). Litter removal is a hidden cost that national estimates put around $11.5 billion annually.
How does littering affect the environment?
Environmentally, litter can be toxic to animals and plants, as well as humans, especially if the toxins leach into the water supply. Wind, weather, traffic, animals and vehicles move litter, which spreads contamination. That's bad.
How do you report littering?
One final way to help reduce litter is by reporting it. You can contact Miramar customer service at 954-602-4357 Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
How do you prevent littering?
We are always looking for creative ways to prevent and stop people from littering. You can do your part by picking up litter near you when you walk your dog, mow your lawn or go about your daily life. But we know: That's a lot to ask, picking up someone else's trash. Imagine the impact we all could have, however, if we committed to picking up 1 item of trash every time we walked through a parking lot, visited friends, or went to work.