Litter

You are the first line of defense for preventing litter. Litter, both intentional and unintentional such as trash blown or floated down stream, is often the result of the improper disposal of trash and has negative impacts on the environment and public health.

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Prevent

What You Can Do

  1. Secure your trash on collection days by using containers with a lid.
  2. Place heavier recyclables on top of lighter materials in open recycling bins. This will prevent bottles and paper from blowing away.
  3. Wait to place your trash and recycling out until the morning of collection day.
  4. Storm drains are not trash cans. Never throw garbage in them
  5. Organize or participate in neighborhood stream cleanups.
  6. Adopt a road and keep it free of litter.
  7. Choose a reusable bottle instead of plastic bottled water.
  8. Choose reusable bags instead of plastic shopping bags.
  9. Report overflowing trash cans and dumpsters.
  10. If you see litter, pick it up and dispose of it properly. Every bottle, wrapper, and box adds up.
  11. Secure trash and recycling before heavy rain events.
  12. Store trash and recycling away from flood prone areas.

Floating trash washes into Accotink Creek following a storm on June 17, 2019. Storm drains in Fairfax County lead directly to the nearest waterway. Any litter on the ground ends up in our streams. Please help prevent litter.

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Public Health and Environment

Negative Impacts on Public Health and The Environment

Litter from storm drains flows directly to local creeks and streams, on to the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Litter from storm drains flows directly to local creeks and streams, on to the Potomac River, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Attracting rodents and insects which may breed disease
  • Polluting streams and lakes that flow to the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay
    • Litter left on sidewalks, streets, yards or other open areas may be carried by rainwater and melting snow to storm drains. Smaller items such as motor oil and pesticides may flow into storm drains and then to rivers, lakes and streams. Large items may block storm drains, and cause road and structure flooding during storms.
  • Killing fish and wildlife
    • Litter may harm aquatic life.
    • Animals may ingest toxic substances such as motor oil, pesticides, or cigarette butts or they may swallow or become entangled in trash that finds its way into streams.
    • Fertilizers from yard waste that is dumped into streams can create large algae blooms which create low oxygen zones that kill fish.
  • Degrading Water Quality
    • Litter affects the quality of stream water that provides recreation for many county residents and is a source of public drinking water.
  • Destroying scenic vistas. Litter is just plain ugly!
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