Litter is “Trashing” the Environment
Nearly 80 percent of the litter found in our creeks and the Bay is washed, blown or dumped there from land! One piece of litter can end up miles from where it is thrown on a suburban street, polluting our creeks and causing a threat to wildlife.
How Litter Can Kill
- Six-pack rings, rope, and discarded fishing line can wrap around fins, flippers and limbs of fish and other animals in the water. Plastic bags, deflated balloons or other items can be mistaken for food and swallowed, blocking an animal’s digestive tract.
- Chemicals found in plastics and other litter can leach into the water, polluting it further.
Sources of litter
The primary sources of litter are: pedestrians, motorists, trucks with uncovered loads, incorrect household trash handling and its placement at the curb, loading docks, and demolition sites.
Click here to see some common sources of litter and how it ends up in our creeks.
You Can Make a Difference
- If you see litter, pick it up and put it in a trash can. Even a cigarette butt thrown on a city street can flow through a storm drain into a local creek. Keep garbage and recycling cans tightly covered to prevent litter from being blown away or scattered by foraging animals.
- Clean leaves and trash out of your rain and street gutters.
- Dispose of pet waste in the garbage.
- Proper disposal of cigarette butts
- Always bring a bag for trash when picnicking, hiking, or camping.
- Keep a trash bag in the car. Collect all trash and dispose of it properly.
- When hauling materials by truck, enclose your loads or cover with a tarp to prevent anything from falling or blowing off the back.
- If you own a business, check your dumpster on a regular basis and protect it from illegal dumping.
- Contact the Santa Clara County Household Hazardous Waste Program to learn about the proper disposal of these and other common household products requiring special care:
- Fluorescent light bulbs
- Motor oil and filters
- Cleaning chemicals and solvents
- Paints and paint thinners
- Toxic spills and clean ups greater than one gallon
- Call the Santa Clara Countywide Recycling Hotline (800) 533-8414 or visit www.recyclestuff.org to find out where to dispose of or donate large household items such as furniture and appliances.
- Volunteer to participate in or organize a creek cleanup with the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s Adopt-A-Creek Program
- Participate in a cleanup event for National River Cleanup Day in May, and Coastal Cleanup Day in September www.cleanacreek.org
- Contact your local city to find out how you can participate in clean-up programs.
Find other volunteer opportunities with local environmental organizations.