In my nine years in the inner city, I have had the “opportunity” to pick up a considerable amount of garbage from around my yard and street that has been so nicely left there by randoms persons. I have become a bit of an “expert” on the subject of litter and have noticed some very interesting things about it. Here are my observations:

1. The top items I usually pick up are lottery tickets, cigarette butts, fast food packaging, and junk food packaging (Little Debbie wrappers, doritos packages, etc)
2. Strange things I have picked up (with gloves!) include: condoms, various car parts, CDs, DVDs, random dead animals (rats, mice, birds).
3. There seems to be a correlation with litter and lottery tickets, cigarette butts, junk food and fast food packaging
4. I never find any soda bottles that can be returned for a deposit.
5. There also seems to be a correlation with litter and unkempt yards (even in places that are owner occupied) – most of my neighbors mow their grass once a month or so and they become weed jungles strewn with litter
6. I had no idea there were so many different lottery games given the many different versions of tickets I pick up. I guess it is a tax on those willing to gamble

The thing I have yet to understand is why people litter on their streets. Is it due to hopelessness? Is it due to lack of caring? Is it due to an entitlement mentality? Is it due to a lack of training? Is it due to something else? I know when I see someone litter, I will ask them to pick it up and please not litter. I usually get a surprised look when this occurs. So maybe it is a lack of training…

My idea to fix the litter problem – give people a $0.01 for each cigarette butt returned (similar to soda deposits), give people $0.05 for each lottery ticket returned, and force fast food/junk food makers to package their “stuff” in biodegradable packaging that dissolves in water. Then you would cut down significantly on the litter…