The Global Fight Against Litter - California
The Global Fight Against Litter
The state of California spends almost half a billion dollars every year clearing litter, especially from its waters. Plastics make their way into the waters from urban areas and causes harm to wildlife like birds, fish, turtles, and other mammals. They ingest it, and get trapped in it.
But it’s not only urban waste that causes harm, fishing gear like lines and nets can trap and kill marine life.
Officials say that the huge amount of money that is spent clearing trash could be better spent on schools, emergency services, and improving public spaces.
A survey of 95 Californian cities and towns found that they all spend a similarly large amount on cleaning up litter from the streets and along the coast. Los Angeles, San Diego, and Long Beach spend $36, $14 million, and $13 million respectively.
The ban on plastic bags
The state has cut single-use plastic bags litter by 72% since 2010, and plastic bags now only make up 1.5% of litter. A huge part of this was the legislation that was introduced in 2014, to ban plastic bags, and legislation that was introduced last year, known as Proposition 67, which prohibited grocery stores from using single-use plastic or paper bags.
Prior to the legislation, around 15 billion plastic bags were sold to consumers, but only 3% of these were recycled, and the rest ended up in landfill, on beaches, in rivers, and on the streets.
The Litter Getters programme is run by the state parks, and it’s designed to encourage kids to get involved in keeping their local parks clean. The programme is very interactive, and the participants get an activity folder which provides them with information on litter, how it can harm wildlife, and how they can dispose of it properly.
How do kids sign up?
Parents can help their children to sign up at any state park visitor centre. Kids will get an activity folder that gives them information on how to pick up litter in the park, and they’ll get gloves and a bag, so they can do their first litter pick. When kids collect their first bag of litter, they get stickers to put in their activity folder, and after they collect a second bag, they receive an award and a certificate.