If you are a park or site facility manager who needs to justify adding more commercial trash cans or park trash cans, consider the loss in property values caused by unsightly piles of garbage.
Excessive litter is not only ugly; it will cost homeowners and businesses some major money in the long run.
According to a Keep America Beautiful study conducted in 2009, here are the indirect costs of litter:
- 93% of homeowners said a dirty neighborhood would lower the value of property in their eyes and would definitely influence their decision to buy.
- 40% of homeowners said litter would reduce a home’s value to them by as much as 10% to 24%.
- Business development officials who are paid to bring businesses in to an area (which results in a larger tax base and more jobs) revealed that 35% of them felt litter would have a negative impact on a company locating in their area.
- When speaking to Realtors, KAP said 55% of them believe litter reduces a property value by 9%.
- 60% of property appraisers said if they saw litter they would decrease the value of a property.
- According to the National Association of Home Builders, litter in a community reduces overall property prices by about 7%.
When you add up the dollar value of ALL homes and buildings in an area, this impact is ENORMOUS.
And all it takes to cause this decrease in property value (which also means a decrease in taxes and quality of life) is to see litter in parks, streets, schools and shopping areas.
Add more commercial trash cans and create more awareness
Now, conversely, the solution is not that complicated. The process to keep property values up and to keep a community attractive is not rocket science.
There are several strategies that can be deployed. First, a real simple solution is to make sure there are an adequate number of park trash cans and commercial trash cans throughout the area (see photo at top of page).
Because one of the biggest causes of litter is when trash receptacles are located too far away from areas of heavy public use or transition points. According to KAP researchers who actually went in the field and observed the public in action, when a trash receptacle was 10 feet or closer, the littering rate was about 12%. But increase that distance and people are less inclined to dispose of their trash properly and litter rates increase significantly. Simple solution – add more commercial garbage cans.
The real problem is that litter creates more litter. So when the initial litterbugs pollute an area, other people see that as a green light to drop their own trash there. And then it keeps piling up and up.
Trash is not the only culprit. Discarded cigarettes are the top contributor to trashy areas. The KAP researchers said of the sites they observed, 91% had trash receptacles but only 47% had ash receptacles or smoking posts. Cigarette butts are not the same as dropped soda cans or hamburger wrappers, but they are just as unsightly.
Educating citizens about the consequences of litter is another strategy to reduce litter. Remember the weeping Indian campaign? It worked.
If you tell homeowners and business people how litter hits them in the pocketbook, you know they will listen. So will political leaders.
KAP says there has been enormous progress in raising awareness with the public. In a national survey conducted in 2009 as a follow-up to one done in 1969, the number of people who reported they littered dropped from 50% to 15%. That’s a fantastic improvement in attitude.
Conduct anti-litter campaigns in schools. Organize volunteers for clean-up days. Post signs.
People for the most part get it. Littering is not cool. It’s a slap in Mother Nature’s face. It’s offensive to their neighbors.
Be sure to provide the right number of commercial trash cans and park trash cans so people can make the right choice and drop their rubbish where it’s supposed to go. The community will be grateful, especially when they see how it helps the value of their homes or businesses.