Litter prevention

A clean street with Mount Rainier looming in the background, with the
We work with partners across the state to promote litter prevention and secure vehicle loads for safer, cleaner highways and public areas.

Roadside litter is a major problem in Washington. Our research shows that 75% of Washingtonians don’t litter, but the actions of those who do result in expensive cleanups, dangerous road conditions, loss of community pride and tourism, and big environmental impacts.

Every year, Ecology and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) spend up to $12 million on litter pickup programs statewide. However, these efforts only skim the surface of the problem. We need to stop litter at the source. We are working with consultants, WSDOT, State Patrol (WSP), Washington Traffic Safety Commission, local governments, and other stakeholders to help change littering behaviors and prevent litter in the first place.

In 2021, we launched the We Keep WA Litter Free brand in English and Spanish ( and This brand is used across sub-campaigns focused on changing specific littering behaviors. We also created a Litter Prevention Partner Toolkit for local jurisdictions, non-profits, community groups, and others to promote litter prevention and amplify campaign messages.  

Our campaigns include targeted statewide advertising on all platforms, signs and messaging on state highways, partnerships with big-box retail locations, work with local jurisdictions on outreach and special events, emphasis patrols and media events with the WSP and more.

Social marketing and behavior change

Our behavior-change campaigns use a social marketing framework. Social marketing is built on research showing that awareness and education alone rarely change behaviors. We invested in audience research to help us understand the barriers and motivators to helping people change their littering behavior. We also tested messages and creative concepts with our priority audiences. This research shaped our campaigns, messaging and distribution of behavior-change tools (such as cargo nets and vehicle litter bags).

We Keep WA Litter Free

Litter is a big problem with easy solutions. Our small daily choices have a big impact. Live litter free and help others do the same.

Secure Your Load for Safer Roads

Litter isn’t just ugly, it’s dangerous. Unsecured vehicle loads cause more than 300 traffic crashes and up to 40% of roadside litter, annually, in Washington. Let’s change that.

Not Littering...Simple as That

Doing your part to end littering is simple. Use a litter bag in your car, or toss your trash in a bin at your destination.