Sometimes littering can be a grey area. For example: Was Johnny
Appleseed littering as he wandered around tossing handfuls of apple
seeds everywhere? The general consensus is that he was not, but I
disagree. He most certainly WAS littering. History seems to give Mr.
Appleseed a pass because he seems to have strewn the seeds about with
the best intentions, but as you well know, some of the most heinous
crimes in history have been committed by people with "the best
intentions" in mind.
That's why I've created this guide: To dispel the myths which surround
the act of littering once and for all. We'll cover a myriad of topics
including (but not limited to)..."Littering With Fruits &
Vegetables: Is It Possible?", "Littering In Public Spaces", "Bodily
Fluids As Litter", "Littering In Geysers & Hot Springs: What Gives?"
So join me, if you will, on this journey through the exciting world of
These days, tossing trash from one's car has become one of the most
popular methods of littering. It seems one cannot drive down the street
without seeing some careless motorist throw a cigarette, fast food
wrapper, or glass jar containing an aborted fetus from their driver's
But maddening as this may be, not everything thrown out of a moving
vehicle is litter. Depending on the item and where it is thrown, it may
be within your rights as a motorist to toss it out. Here are a few
examples of when it may or may not be appropriate to litter from a car.
You buy a hot dog from the gas station and decide to eat it on the
drive to work. Unfortunately, as is the case with many gas station hot
dogs, you become violently ill after taking a single bite. Without
thinking, you hurl the hotdog out the window of your moving vehicle,
and it flies into the open window of the car traveling alongside yours,
landing in the passenger seat.
So long as you ensure that the litter lands in somebody else's car (or
even the pocket of a pedestrian), you're free and clear. As you may
well have heard in grade school possession is 9/10th of the law. It
doesn't take a lawyer to figure out that this should be taken to meant
that if someone throws garbage at you, it is now your responsibility to
dispose of it (due mostly to the fact that you touched it last).
Additionally, if the thrower issues a call of "No Tag Backs"/"No
Returns" in a sing-song voice immediately upon throwing the item, the
receiver of the item is barred (by law) from throwing the item back. If
this occurs, the receiver must either dispose of the item themselves or
throw it at a different host within 28 seconds.
After smoking a harmless cigarette, you open the window of your car and
flick the still-lit butt onto the road.
It It Littering?
It may come as a surprise to many smokers, but being an addict does not
necessarily confer upon you the right to throw garbage wherever you
please. Say what you will about heroin addicts, but at least they have
the common courtesy to leave their discarded, HIV-positive syringes
where they belong (in flophouses, their children's backpacks, and the
stairwells of public housing projects) instead of simply throwing them
to the ground when they've finished poisoning themselves, as most
smokers seem so keen to do with their cigarette waste.
One common (and laughable) excuse I hear for this behavior is "My car
doesn't have an ash tray, so I have to toss my old butts out the
window." This is somewhat akin to dumping all your trash on the street
in front of your house and, when questioned, claiming you only did it
because "your house doesn't have a garbage can".
LITTERING WITH FRUIT
While it may not be as common as other forms of littering, litter by
fruit is still recognized as a common, and somewhat serious problem in
many western states. Here're some do's and don'ts when it comes to
An 86-year-old man drops an orange on the sidewalk and fails to pick it
up because he claims to have "a bad back".
Is It Littering?
Becripplement is no excuse for littering. If an old man cannot perform
basic everyday actions such as writing out checks in less than 20
minutes, hearing what has been said, or bending over to pick up a piece
of fruit, he has no right to be out in public in the first place.
There is absolutely no shame in being confined to a hospital bed in a
dimly-lit, shit-smelling for the remainder of one's days. A good
citizen never allows foolish things like pride and an unflappable
willingness to remain autonomous until one's death to get in the way of
A child is given an orange for his lunch by his mother. As he does not
care for oranges, he takes it out of his bag and drops it into a nearby
Although geysers might seem like an acceptable place to deposit
trash, they are not. You must remember that garbage thrown down that
hole does not simply disappear. When the geyser erupts (as geysers are
wont to do) trash will be thrown everywhere. This is what's known as
"Littering-By-Proxy". Far better to throw your excess food into a
volcano where it can be digested by the mother earth and used as fuel
The pilot of an airplane has brought an orange for his lunch. Halfway
through the flight, he decides he no longer wants it and throws it out
of the plane and it lands in the Pacific ocean.
Throwing things into the ocean isn't littering, it's called polluting.
So go ahead.
Is relieving oneself out-of-doors considered littering? In short: It
depends. The following examples should clear up exactly what's allowed
and what isn't.
It is summer. You stop on a busy sidewalk to relieve yourself and, in
doing so, manage to splash urine all over yourself, a nearby
automobile, and several passersby.
While it may be illegal (consult your local public indecency laws)
urinating all over everyone and everything is not technically littering.
It is winter. You are out for a walk in the park when you get the urge
to urinate. You do so on the path, creating a large, yellowish puddle.
Because the temperature is below freezing, the urine freezes almost
immediately, creating a sort of makeshift urinary ice rink.
The key here is the freezing of the urine. Because the urine froze
instead of evaporating, the puddle you've created is not only an
eyesore, but also a significant public health hazard. If you must pee
in the winter, do so into a biodegradable container and place it in
under a park bench or inside a postal box. Out of sight, out of mind.
You are on your way into the mall and are suddenly striken with an
uncontrollable case of sudden-onset diarrhea. You drop your pants and
let fly in the middle of the parking lot (much to the horror of your
wife and children).
It is not.
Remember that whether or not a bodily fluid can be considered litter
depends mostly on its viscosity. In high foot traffic areas, watery (or
oily) excretions are likely to be smeared around by unwitting
pedestrians or lapped up by pets. As such, they often dissipate
quickly. On the other hand, solid, chunky, or fibrous waste products
should NEVER be excreted in public.
When it comes right down to it, crapping on the steps of the post
office is really no less offensive than throwing a half-melted Clark
Bar or gooey convenience store brownie just outside the door. If you
truly cannot make it to the bathroom, use the waste bin. When it comes
to public property, we're all joint owners. We must always take care to
keep our cities clean, and if this means wading into a dumpster to
defecate, so be it.
We only have one planet, so let's all do our part to keep it clean.
Don't litter, and if you see a piece of refuse on the ground (whether
it be a bit of moist wig, a bloody molar, or even a soiled condom) pick
it up and place it in your pocket or mouth for safe keeping. Then take
it to the nearest police station, security office, or military base and
set it on the front counter. Then say "I'd like to file a report on
some litter." When they turn around to retrieve a report, just walk
out. They won't know what to think.
If we all band together as human beings, we can eliminate the scourge
of litter from our universe once and for all. Then, and only then, will
be truly know what it is to be free.