Why Not Stop the Trash at the Source?

The Friends of Little Hunting Creek have cleaned up trash in and along the creek every spring since 2001.

Litter at Janna Lee Avenue bridge

It is unending and overwhelming.

Why?

To enforce litter laws, litterers must be caught in the act. That's unlikely to happen, and litterers know it.

There are no incentives for litterers to stop littering, or for producers of littered material to prevent it from reaching our streams, roadways, and neighborhoods.

Clearly, current policies and laws do not work. Without incentives to change their behavior, litterers will continue littering.

Why should people who do not litter continue to pick up after people who do?

Citizens' Action Plan for Litter Prevention

In 2011, the Mount Vernon Council of Citizens' Associations (MVCCA) passed a resolution in support of Citizens' Action Plan for Litter Prevention and asked that Fairfax County take 10 actions to increase recycling and reduce litter.

The MVCCA asked Fairfax County to take the following six actions immediately:

  1. Fully implement a recycling program in Fairfax County Public Schools, and use it to support education in environmental stewardship,

  2. Revise the recycling ordinance to require all businesses to recycle cans and bottles, in addition to paper and cardboard,

  3. Adopt a litter control ordinance,

  4. Conduct anti-litter public information campaigns and increase enforcement of anti-littering laws,

  5. Request that the Virginia Litter Control and Recycling Fund Advisory Board promulgate regulations requiring that litter receptacles be placed in public places, as provided by existing state law, and

  6. Require recycling at county events, and should require users of outdoor park and school properties to remove all trash.

The MVCCA further asked the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to add to the county's legislative agenda the following items to effectively address the litter problem over the long term:

  1. Request state legislators to pass and the Governor to sign a bill that bans polystyrene and requires biodegradable packaging for take-out food,

  2. Request state legislators to pass and the Governor to sign a bill that implements a beverage container deposit law,

  3. Request state legislators to pass and the Governor to sign a bill that imposes a fee on single-use plastic or paper shopping bags, or that authorizes localities to do so, and

  4. Request the Virginia Litter Control and Recycling Fund Advisory Board and the state legislature to raise the annual litter tax (which has been $25 since 1987) and use the proceeds to fund litter prevention, cleanups and outreach.

As of 2016, none of these steps have been taken, despite some efforts. Urge your County Supervisor and your Virginia Delegate and Senator to take action to reduce litter!