Conducted by Pliking Inc. (Pliking Club of Ogden), 2019-2020
We received 183 responses from surveys distributed at presentations and litter education booths.
The respondents were primarily from Ogden (62%), with the remainder from other Utah communities. We did not notice any significant differences based on location of residence.
Ages were evenly distributed with 37% younger than 29 years old, 26% that were 30 – 49 years old, and 37% over age 50. Younger people were more likely to report littering themselves and also less likely to say something if someone else littered.
Interestingly, the percentage that reported they littered was 16%; a nationwide survey by Keep America Beautiful found a rate of 15%. Most respondents (67%) reported they would say something if they observed someone littering.
Respondents stated that the main reasons people litter were:
Easier than saving trash to discard later – 57%
Don’t understand the negative impact – 51%
Someone else will pick it up – 46%
Lazy or can’t find trash bin – each 43%
–Totals equal more than 100% because each respondent circled as many answers as applied.
The main sources of litter were reported as:
Pedestrians/hikers – 68%
Illegal dumping – 44%
Motor vehicles/Wind blowing debris – each 40%
Actions that respondents felt would decrease litter:
More trash cans/better placement – 57%
Awareness and education programs – 56%
Cleanup events – 53%
Reduce litter at the source, less plastics – 42%
It is interesting that the second and third actions are provided directly by the Pliking Club. Also, 42% of residents said it would help to reduce litter at the source, yet I rarely see anyone besides myself using reusable grocery bags at the Ogden stores.
Only 17% of respondents know how to report litter/graffiti/unsafe trail conditions in Ogden, mostly Ogden residents.
75% of respondents visit the trails regularly, with 32% reporting that they visit them “as often as possible.”
Comments written on the surveys were passionate and included a wide variety of swear words and insults. Respondents are clearly angry about the amount of litter on our trails, yet many do not feel any personal responsibility to pick it up. However, several respondents indicated that they have informally adopted particular trails or parks, and have been cleaning them regularly for years.
For the Pliking Club, the results indicated that our focus on youth education is an effective approach, at least as perceived by survey respondents. A UDOT study (UT-13.11) also indicated that youth education was one of the most effective approaches for curbing the amount of highway litter.
LITTERATI – January – March 2020
Pliking Club challenge participants photographed and picked up 13,898 pieces of litter over a two-month period.
The main items picked up were as expected – plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, cigarette butts, lots of plastic including straws.
The amount of litter on our streets and trails is particularly heavy in the downtown area, with visible litter decreasing as you travel east towards the mountains. However, we did not find any area that was immune to litter – even the east bench streets have an average litter load of 4-5 pieces per city block.
For a map of where the items were picked up, visit www.litterati.org.
Pliking Club members actually picked up much more litter than was recorded during the two-month period. Some members did not enjoy the app and chose to pick up litter without using it. Others had difficulty with phone battery life, joining and staying in the correct challenge, and the amount of phone data required.
Overall, we felt that using the app increased our awareness of what we were picking up; however, the data collected did not justify its continued use for our regular cleanup events. We were disappointed in the quality of data provided by Litterati, partly due to the current difficulty of categorizing items, which can only be done on the phone and is very tedious. We found that we were not able to pick up as much trash in a given time period.
Some people liked the gamification aspect of Litterati, but the majority of our participants prefer to enjoy nature without an electronic device; this may be related to the fact that they are generally older adults. However, even the Weber State students found that some students liked using the app, while many did not.