As over 18 million pounds of litter accumulate annually on Washington roads, parks and recreation areas, the Department of Ecology has launched a statewide campaign, “Simple As That,” to encourage Washingtonians to use litter bags, and talk to friends and family members about littering.
Over 75% of Washington residents choose to not litter, and about 26% of litterers would be motivated to stop if a friend or family member asked them to refrain, according to 2021 research commissioned by the Washington State Department of Ecology.
“Litter adds up when we don’t make simple choices to properly dispose of garbage. It damages our environment, hurts wildlife, and threatens public health, safety and our economy,” said Gov. Jay Inslee. “Ultimately, our success is determined by people choosing to not litter.”
In the Department of Ecology’s 2021 research, it was found that not having a car trash bag was the main reason people littered. Plastic wrappers, snack bags and cigarette butts are some of the most commonly littered items.
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and the Department of Ecology together spend over $9 million annually on litter cleanup efforts. The “Simple As That” campaign is designed to help prevent litter by altering the behaviors that cause it, and provides tips to avoid littering.
Several tips to avoid littering include:
- Always having a dedicated container for collecting trash; use a litter bag while traveling to keep the vehicle tidy and reduce the chances of littering accidentally when opening doors and windows. When visiting parks and recreational areas, bring a bag so it’s easy to pack out what was packed in.
- Holding onto trash from travels until reaching a waste receptacle at a gas station, rest area, or the destination.
- Helping others live litter free by informing friends and family members on how to make better choices.
“Litter is a big problem with simple solutions. Small actions like keeping a litter bag in your car to collect garbage can make a huge difference,” said Amber Smith, statewide litter prevention coordinator at the Department of Ecology. “It’s critical for us to stop litter at its source. When you take care of your trash the right way, you help create a litter free Washington and set a good example for others. We need everyone to do their part.”
From January-July 2022, 816 tons of litter and debris were removed from Washington roadsides, according to the Department of Ecology; 357 tons of litter were collected in July alone.
As part of the campaign, the Department of Ecology is running statewide advertising in both English and Spanish, and is partnering with Fred Meyer stores to give away free car litter bags to shoppers across the state. Litter Prevention Toolkits are also being distributed to allied government agencies, jurisdictions and nonprofit organizations to help reach more Washington residents.
Click here for more information on the “Simple As That” campaign.