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Don't mess with Texas

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Litter Facts

Who’s ready for a little trash talk?

Litter in Texas is a big problem, and we’ve been hard at work researching the cost of litter in Texas. Using everything from behavior and attitude studies to visible litter studies, we’ve been collecting data (and litter) to best assess how to approach the problem head-on and determine the most effective methods to end litter in Texas forever. Get the Research.

LITTER FACT #1: 1 in 4 Texans admits to littering in the past year.

LITTER FACT #2: Approximately 435 million pieces of visible litter accumulate on Texas roadways each year.

LITTER FACT #3: The most common forms of litter are food/organic material, cigarette butts, and small pieces of paper—receipts, gum wrappers.

LITTER FACT #4: 71% of litter consists of microlitter that is not easily seen on roadways, such as cigarette butts, straws, and gum wrappers.

LITTER FACT #5: Tobacco trash is the most common form of litter found on Texas roadways.

LITTER FACT #6: You can be fined $500 every time you litter in Texas. And, if what you toss weighs more than 5 pounds, you may have to pay up to $2,000.

LITTER FACT #7: Tire debris is the second largest component of litter and is pervasive across all areas of Texas.

LITTER FACT #8: If every person in Texas picked up just two pieces of trash every month, our highways would be completely litter-free in just one year.

LITTER FACT #9: 62% of Texas smokers admit to tossing their cigarette butts out of the window of their cars. Please keep your butts in the vehicle at all times. Thanks.

LITTER FACT #10: Litter is trash that is not disposed of properly in a trashcan. Apple cores are litter too!

Research

2013 Attitudes and Behaviors Study

Conducted ever two years, this study analyzes Texans' attitudes and behavior toward littering and the slogan "Don't mess with Texas." Within the general population, awareness of the slogan is very high, with most residents associating it with an anti-litter message and keeping our beautiful state clean. However about a third of Texas residents still admitted to littering in the past month, with millennials (16-34) having a much higher incidence of littering compared to older adults. This study was conducted on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation by Decision Analyst, Inc. and Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing.

View 2013 Attitudes and Behaviors Study Executive Summary (PDF, 281 KB)

View 2013 Attitudes and Behaviors Study Full Report (PDF, 3.1 MB)

2013 Visible Litter Study Results

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), in partnership with Sherry Matthews Advocacy Marketing (SMAM), and Environmental Resources Planning (ERP), conducted a Visible Litter Study (VLS) to estimate the projected number of pieces and types of litter on Texas roadways in 2013 (a follow-up to a 2009 research study).

View 2013 Litter Prevention Research Executive Summary (PDF, 375 KB)

View 2013 Litter Prevention Research Full Report (PDF, 1.3 MB)

2009 Litter Prevention Research

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) fielded this litter prevention study in 2009 (a follow-up to a 2007 research study) to measure the effectiveness of the Don’t mess with Texas® campaign’s litter prevention program for elementary-age children, known as the Litter Force. The goal of the Litter Force program is to prevent Texas children from becoming litterers. Findings reveal that third-graders growing up with the Don’t mess with Texas campaign are less likely to develop the littering habits of earlier generations.

View 2009 Litter Prevention Research Executive Summary (PDF, 188 KB)

View 2009 Litter Prevention Research Full Report (PDF, 318 KB)

2009 Attitudes and Behaviors Study

Conducted every two years, this study analyzes Texans’ attitudes and behavior toward littering and Don’t mess with Texas. Some interesting results include: People who litter cigarette butts are more likely to litter other items and males between the ages 16 and 34 are the state’s worst litterers.

This follow-up to the 2007 study continues to show extremely high awareness of the Don’t mess with Texas campaign slogan and an increase in the number of people who understand the brand’s meaning, and confirms that males between the ages of 16 and 34 are the most likely to litter. Conducted by Stadia Marketing and EnviroMedia Social Marketing for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2009 Attitudes and Behaviors Study Executive Summary (PDF, 206 KB)

View 2009 Attitudes and Behaviors Study Full Report (PDF, 2.2 MB)

2009 Visible Litter Study Results

This follow-up to the 2005 study provides the most recent estimates of the amounts and kinds of litter that accumulate annually on Texas roadways. Conducted by NuStats International and EnviroMedia Social Marketing for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2009 Visible Litter Study Results Executive Summary (PDF, 1 MB)

View 2009 Visible Litter Study Results Full Report (PDF, 81.2 MB)

2007 Attitudes & Behaviors Results

This follow-up research to the 2005 study shows extremely high awareness of the Don’t mess with Texas campaign slogan, confirms that Texans under age 25 are most likely to litter and suggests that children who have seen their parents litter are more likely to litter in the future. Conducted by Baselice & Associates, Inc. and EnviroMedia Social Marketing.

View 2007 Attitudes & Behaviors Results (PDF, 335 KB)

2005 Visible Litter Study Results

This follow-up to the 2001 study estimates the amounts and types of litter on Texas roadways. Conducted by NuStats International and EnviroMedia Social Marketing for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2005 Visible Litter Study Results (PDF, 2.5 MB)

2005 Attitudes & Behaviors Results

This follow-up to the 2001 study reconfirms the 1998 shift in the litterer profile from males age 18 to 34 to Generation Litterer (Gen L), males and females under age 25. Conducted by NuStats International and EnviroMedia Social Marketing for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2005 Attitudes & Behaviors Results (PDF, 337 KB)

2003 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study

This follow-up to the 2001 Attitudes and Behaviors Study was conducted by Wilson Research Strategies and EnviroMedia Social Marketing for the Texas Department of Transportation. The survey continued tracking Texans’ littering attitudes and behaviors, identifying traits of people who are most likely to litter and the kinds of litter they are most likely to admit to dropping.

View 2003 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study (PDF, 368 KB)

2002 Hispanic Litter Survey—Fact Sheet

Highlights research results of the littering attitudes and behaviors of Texas Hispanics. Conducted by NuStats International for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2002 Hispanic Litter Survey—Fact Sheet

2002 Hispanic Litter Survey—Executive Summary

Presents research results of the littering attitudes and behaviors of Texas Hispanics. Conducted by NuStats International for the Texas Department of Transportation.

View 2002 Hispanic Litter Survey—Executive Summary

2001 Visible Litter Study

Every year, thousands of tons of litter collect on Texas roadsides. Beginning in the fall of 2000, NuStats, in cooperation with Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), conducted a litter survey to better understand the amounts and types of litter deposited on Texas roadways. The survey involved collecting litter data from 125 research segments across the Lone Star State, each consisting of a 500- or 1,500-foot stretch of TxDOT-maintained roadway.

View 2001 Visible Litter Study

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 a similar 1988 study.

View 2001 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study—Fact Sheet

1998 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study—Fact Sheet

This report documents a statewide survey on littering behavior and littering attitudes, conducted by Tuerff-Davis EnviroMedia, Inc. and NuStats International of Austin for the Texas Department of Transportation. The survey, which was conducted in the summer of 1998, included 1,201 Texas residents. 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 +/- 2% precision level.

View 1998 Litter Attitudes and Behaviors Study—Fact Sheet