We can all agree on something: litter is bad. And people who litter are even worse. These people are often referred to as “litter bugs” and nobody wants to be a litter bug! However, the origin of the term is actually quite interesting.
Littering wasn’t too much of a problem until businesses started using disposable plastics, specifically plastic bottles. Before their creation, most soda, milk, and other liquids were sold in glass bottles, which the customer would return to the distributor to be used again. But when disposable bottles were invented, this method was thrown out the window.
The increase in use of disposable products caused a huge increase in the presence of litter, and corporate businesses didn’t want that bad reputation getting back to them. In order to divert this blame, they accused customers of causing the litter problem, labeling them as “litter bugs”, and thus the term was born.
Despite recycling campaigns and return deposits offered in America, plastic bottles are still a huge problem. Millions of plastic bottles are thrown into landfills every year, and sit there for decades while they slowly decompose.
One great way of incentivizing people to recycle is increasing the return deposits on plastic bottles. In the U.S. consumers only get 5 cents back per bottle, which offers little motivation. On top of that, only 11 states even participate in bottle return: California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Vermont, New York, Delaware, Oregon, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, and Hawaii. However, Europe does a great job at incentivizing bottle returns, and offer up to 25 cents for every bottle returned. Because of this, recycling rates are much higher, and countries such as Austria and Germany recycle up to 62% of ALL waste.
Another way to reduce plastic bottle waste? DON’T USE THEM! plastic bottles can be avoided almost all the time if you plan ahead and stick to what your body needs.
To learn more about Keeping American Beautiful and the litter problem in the U.S, watch this video from Adam Ruins Everything!
Thanks for reading!