A litter program is born
Protecting, preserving, and enhancing the environment for current and future generations is the mission driving Ecology for the past 50 years. Tackling the litter problem and changing behavior is no easy task, especially considering the history of shifting priorities and budgets, and the need to stay relevant to audiences of the time.
In 1971, when Ecology was about a year old, the Model Litter Control Act passed. It levied a 0.015% tax on a variety of frequently littered items. The new law aimed to change the habits and behaviors of citizens through strong education programs. It also set fines and enforcement policies for littering, created a youth jobs program in litter pickup, required the placement of garbage cans in certain public places, and more. We implemented several litter control efforts, including anti-litter campaigns. Read more about our past litter prevention efforts in the 50 Years of litter pickup and prevention blog post.
Litter and it will hurt
Washington’s previous litter prevention campaign, Litter and It Will Hurt, began in 2002 and ended in 2009 due to state legislative budget cuts. The Litter and It Will Hurt campaign had a strong enforcement theme and highlighted littering fines and litter reporting. There was a 24/7 litter-reporting hotline (1-866-LITTER-1) and reported violators were sent an educational warning letter on State Patrol letterhead. Litter and It Will Hurt successfully reduced roadside litter by 25% in the first two years of the campaign.
Signs advertising the hotline remain along roadways. If someone calls to report a violator, they hear a recorded message saying the program was discontinued due to budget cuts. We will update signs in the 2021-23 biennium to align with the new litter prevention campaign.