Litter in My Community

Litter in my town has been a huge problem for a long time. Every time my brother and I go out on a bike ride or for a walk, we often find ourselves having to swerve around cans, broken glass bottles, and other pieces of trash that had been discarded on the sides of the roads. Inspired by a post on Facebook by the Middleton Stream Team, we decided to begin to fix this problem. This past weekend, my brother, father, and I went out on a trash clean-up with a few trash bags to help ameliorate this litter problem. We planned to walk along the entire length of our street, but before we got even halfway down, our bags were completely filled and we had to return home. The next day, I sorted and counted all the items we had collected and put the data into a graph that outlined the types of litter we found and the number of each type:

I saw that there was an astounding amount of plastic water bottles on my street, and wanted to know how other places in Massachusetts compared with it. On the Middleton Stream Team Facebook page, someone had posted her data from a walk, and found that mini liquor and wine bottles and plastic water bottles, as well as beer cans and cigarette packages, were found in abundance on Peabody St, which is nearby to my own. Massachusetts Coastal Sweep in 2017 also posted their data of what they collected, showing cigarette butts and plastics to be the most common items on the beach.

Seeing this, I was curious to find out how long these items will take to degrade (to break down) and be returned back to the environment. I made a graph showing the times taken for the top 7 litter items of my street to degrade:


Note: Cigarette butts take around 10 years to degrade, and JUUL/Cigarette Containers take around half of a year.

I have compiled these findings and research into a video: