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2001 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study – Fact Sheet


This report documents a statewide telephone survey conducted by Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia Inc. and NuStats International of Austin for the Texas Department of Transportation. The survey assessed Texans’ littering attitudes and behaviors, and documented how these attitudes and behaviors have changed since 1998 when a similar study was conducted.

The survey, which was conducted March 1, 2001, included 868 residents of Texas. Sampled households were selected at random from a geographically balanced sample, stratified by area code, that consisted of listed and unlisted telephone numbers. Adults over age 16 and residing in a Texas household with telephone service were eligible. The study was conducted with a sample size at the 95% confidence level and a +/- 3% margin of error.


Forty percent of Texans admit to littering in the past three years even though it’s illegal and they can be fined up to $500 for the dirty offense. The overall number of Texans who admitted to littering in the 2001 study is virtually identical to 1998. However, Texans in 2001 are less likely to have littered recently (within the last three months).

Littering Behavior

Using a breakthrough approach originally employed in 1998, the 2001 survey revealed that over half of all Texans self-reported either littering or being tolerant of littering behavior by others. The research also revealed the state?s worst litterers continue to be young adults (males and females age 16-24).

For purposes of this study, adult Texans can be classified in the following ways:


Using statistical models, certain demographic and lifestyle characteristics were correlated with littering behavior. The predictors were virtually identical in the 1998 and 2001 studies. These characteristics include (in order):

Overall, young people?24 and under?are more likely to be Gross or Micro Litterers than are adults over 24. In this age group, there is no significant difference between males and females or among ethnicities when it comes to littering small items.


Of those Texans who smoke, more than one-half admit to littering, especially small items like cigarette butts. Four percent are Gross Litterers, 24 percent are Micro Litterers and 24 percent are Reformed Litterers.

Frequenters of Fast Food Restaurants

Texans who typically eat fast food in their vehicles are more than three times as likely to be Gross Litterers and more than twice as likely to be Micro Litterers than those who eat at home.

Texans On-the-Go

Nearly 70 percent of people who personally admit to littering say the behavior occurred while driving.


To help reduce litter, Texans gave their opinions on the most effective messages they endorse for a public education campaign:

Remind people littering is illegal and the fine is up to $500 for trashing Texas. The fine for dumping items more than 5 pounds is up to $2,000. Include litter prevention material in driver’s education and license information. Produce more ads with new people in them.

Texans still believe using an altruistic approach, or a sense of social responsibility — telling people “It’s the right thing to do” — would be the least effective message.


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