Common Sources of Litter

Different Types of Litter Violations

The table above reflects violations recorded in 2000 by the Washington State Patrol.
Litter Violation
Percent of Total
Failure to Secure Load
Debris Escape
Uncovered Load
Debris Thrown
Debris Lighted

Unintended Consequences

The majority, 59%, of litter incidents involve a failure to contain potential litter, not from intentionally throwing litter on the ground. Which suggests most of us are not slobs, we're just careless and irresponsible.

Unsecured Loads

If your cargo is not secured it can, and often does, fall off your vehicle when subjected to the bumps, vibrations and wind while being transported. Take some time to tie your cargo down and periodically stop and check that your load has not shifted and that your tie-downs are still doing their job.

Uncovered Loads

If your cargo is made up of small, light weight objects, use a tarp and tie-downs to protect it from the wind. This is especially important when hauling trash. In fact, trash should be bagged and secured with a tarp or cargo net.

Escaping Debris

Escaping debris accounted for 22% of litter violations and probably for an even greater amount of the actual litter found along our roads. Small bits of paper and product packaging left loose in your car can blow out the window while traveling down the road or just fall out the door when you enter or leave your vehicle. You are required by law to have a litter bag in your vehicle and it is a good idea to use it too.

Another source of escaping debris is loose stuff left in the back of pickup trucks. Clean out the bed of your truck often, you may not be the only person throwing stuff in there. Another source is uncovered trash cans. Trash can lids keep the varmints out and the trash in.


Some of us, 41%, are just slobs. intentionally throwing trash on the ground.

For more information, visit the Washington State Department of Ecology Litter Page.