Research and experience show that litter is the result of individual choice to be careless in the handling of personal waste. More than 80 percent of individuals believe that littering is wrong. However, research shows that nearly one in five, or 17 percent of all public disposals were littered with 81 percent of this littering being intentional, involving flicking, flinging, or dropping trash. When surveyed, the litterers did not feel a sense of personal responsibility for the cleanliness of the parks, walkways, beaches, and other public spaces. Instead, there was a belief that someone else will pick up after them. Cigarette butts represent the vast majority of littering – for both the amount of material littered as well as the percentage that are improperly discarded. Following cigarettes, food remnants and their accompanying wrappers – as well as beverage containers – represent the next most frequently littered items.
Litterers are reluctant to litter a clean environment, but do not suffer those same qualms with an already littered area. Meaning, once litter is on the ground it attracts more litter, whereas a clean community discourages littering.