Litter is any kind of rubbish dropped on the ground by people when they are moving from place to place. Litter includes drink cans, bottles, cigarette packets, fast-food containers, paper wrapping and many other things.
Fig.  4.24: Many people throw rubbish out of moving cars.
Fig. 4.24: Many people throw rubbish out of moving cars.

11.1 Why people litter

Traditionally, Indigenous people did not stay in one place for long and they usually moved around the land in small family groups, so very little rubbish collected in one place. What rubbish they did leave behind was just faeces, urine and the remains of plant and animal foods. This was not a problem because waste material soon dried up and became free of bacteria, or other animals used it for their food.

When Indigenous people began to live in houses they did not understand how to get rid of new types of rubbish like glass, plastic, paper and cans. Today, there are many Indigenous people who have still not yet learned about this. However, there are also many people who do know that they should not litter but still throw their rubbish about.

Some of the reasons they do this are:
  • a lack of rubbish bins
  • no system being in place to deal with rubbish and litter
  • not understanding the links between rubbish and disease or injury
  • lack of community spirit - some people are not interested in keeping the community clean, tidy and healthy
  • adults failing to set a good example for children - if the adults are always dropping litter then children will think it is the right thing to do and they will do the same thing. Children must be shown how to use rubbish bins
Fig.  4.25: Some people are too lazy to make sure rubbish is put in bins.
Fig. 4.25: Some people are too lazy to make sure rubbish is put in bins.

Fig.  4.26:  The people who live in this dirty, unhealthy community do not get rid of their rubbish properly.
Fig. 4.26: The people who live in this dirty, unhealthy community do not get rid of their rubbish properly.

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11.2 Ideas to stop people littering

When people in a community drop rubbish on the ground, they should be encouraged to stop doing it. To do this the EHP could try the following ideas:
  • Set up a system for dealing with rubbish in the community.
  • Have enough rubbish bins around the community.
  • Place rubbish bins where people usually meet to talk and play, for example, outside the store, near playgrounds, meeting places and schools.
  • Empty the rubbish bins regularly.
  • Educate people so they understand:
    • the health problems caused by litter
    • the danger of injury from litter
    • the pleasure of a clean and tidy environment
  • Encourage community spirit. This can be done by:
    • organising community clean-ups
    • planting trees and gardens
    • making playgrounds
    • painting fences, walls and buildings
  • Encourage the Community Council to set fines for people who litter. This means the Council will make people pay some money when they are caught dropping litter.
    • It will be necessary for the Council to get advice from the local authority on how to go about making littering an offence which can be punished by a fine.
  • Encourage people to recycle rubbish. Not all rubbish can be recycled but some can, such as:
    • metals
    • glass
    • paper
    • aluminium cans
The EHP may be able to make arrangements for people in the community to sell some items of rubbish, such as aluminium cans, for recycling. Getting money for their rubbish is a very good way of encouraging people not to litter.
Fig.  4.27:  The people in this clean, healthy community dispose of their rubbish properly all the time.
Fig. 4.27: The people in this clean, healthy community dispose of their rubbish properly all the time.