Why do you think people litter, and what is the best way to discourage littering in one’s community when there is wide economic disparity?
— Taking Responsibility Around Scraps, Honorably
I get the sense that you’re writing from or about a gentrifying neighborhood, a rich source of tensions in Umbra’s mailbox. And litter itself is such a deeply complex salad of environmental issues!
We can begin with the obvious: the fact that we wouldn’t have so much litter without the production of so many single-use items that need to be disposed of. According to the nonprofit Keep America Beautiful, roadside litter decreased by 61 percent between 1969 and 2009, while the use of plastic packaging increased more than threefold — and accordingly, plastic litter increased by 165 percent. But there’s a plot twist! Keep America Beautiful, which is kind of the national authority on litter, was originally founded by packaging companies in the 1950s to frame waste as an issue of personal rather than corporate responsibility. So that’s the systemic back... Read more