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Who Gives a Hoot?: Intercept Surveys of Litterers and Disposers

Across 14 different outdoor settings in 8 states, the authors interviewed 102 disposers to examine how littering behavior is affected by environmental factors, social norms, demographic characteristics, and self-reported motivations. Observations revealed that 25% of all disposals were littered, and the most commonly littered item was cigarette butts. Participants were less likely to litter in locations with more receptacles available and with receptacles positioned so they could be easily reached. Younger participants, who reported weaker personal norms against littering, were more likely to litter. Implications of this work suggested the necessity of adequate receptacle availability and accessibility, especially cigarette-butt receptacles. In addition, antilittering campaigns were advised to direct their appeals to those most at risk for littering—targets under the age of 30.

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