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1 Public Attitudes Toward Littering in Tennessee: May 19 – June 5, 2008 Survey of 622 Tennesseans for Keep Tennessee Beautiful Wayne Pitts, PhD George.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Public Attitudes Toward Littering in Tennessee: May 19 – June 5, 2008 Survey of 622 Tennesseans for Keep Tennessee Beautiful Wayne Pitts, PhD George."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Public Attitudes Toward Littering in Tennessee: May 19 – June 5, 2008 Survey of 622 Tennesseans for Keep Tennessee Beautiful Wayne Pitts, PhD George Lord, PhD With Lauren Moss, M.A. Mid-South Survey Research Center School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy

2 2 Purpose of this Poll Identify attitudes toward littering in Tennessee Interviews conducted May 19 to June 5, 2008 Core questions designed to assess attitudes toward littering, behavior, anti-littering knowledge, enforcement, and awareness and effectiveness of anti-littering advertising Provide trend analysis from baseline study conducted in 2006 where questions were repeated

3 3 Sample Design Telephone survey – 622 respondents from 3 areas of the state Urban Suburban Rural Qualified Respondents – Resident of Tennessee for > 2 years – Adult of age 18 to 34

4 4 Questions on the littering poll designed to evaluate: – Public perceptions of littering – Awareness of littering – How often people litter – Disposal of cigarette butts – Awareness of anti-littering advertising – Perception of who is responsible for litter – Awareness and effectiveness of anti-litter penalties

5 5 Key Findings 1.On average, people perceive about the same amount of litter today as two years ago. 2.There is strong consensus about things people would call litter. 3. Under a third (32.5%) of the people in this poll say that they have knowingly thrown trash on the street, down considerably from Less than 10% of respondents say they do this on a regular basis.

6 6 Key Findings continued 5.When asked about the anti-littering advertising they have seen in the past month – Billboards are the highest recognition; Television is also high; these are reversed from – Television is seen as most effective. 6. Most people (85.5%) say legal penalties would stop them from littering.

7 7 Key Findings continued 7. Very few (4.5%, up from 3% in 2006) people say that litter laws are enforced all of the time. 8. Most people said it is prisoners who pick up litter. 9.There is only a moderately high awareness (65.8% up from 59% in 2006) of recycling opportunities. Awareness is lower in urban areas. 10. Just over half (56% up from 46% in 2006) of respondents say they recycle.

8 8 Implications While men and women share a common understanding of littering, men are more likely to litter. Many people are aware of anti-littering advertising and most people rate television as the most effective way to advertise. Obstacles for moving ahead continue to be seen in people’s perception that anti-litter ordinances will not be enforced and in a lack of personal responsibility for littering.

9 9 The results of the poll show that people perceive about the same amount of litter today as they did two years ago.

10 10 What is litter? Several items were read to respondents. They were asked (yes or no), if they saw these items on the street, highway, or sidewalk, if they would call each item litter. The results show a near universal perception that each of the items on the list would be seen as litter with a slight decline from Debris flying from an open truck was least likely to be perceived as litter.

11 11 Most items tend to be near universally seen as litter. However, there is less consensus about trash flying out of a truck. In addition, the percent identifying items as litter has declined slightly from the 2006 survey.

12 12 People were asked to think about litter on the ground and its impact. Most people view litter as impacting how other people view their community. Change from 2006 was only slightly different.

13 13 Littering Behavior People were asked about their own behavior. The question was: “During the last year have you ever thrown or dropped a piece of trash on a street, highway, or parking lot?” 32.5% of respondents said “Yes,” down from 48% in % of males and 19.9% of females.

14 14 Respondents were asked how often they knowingly drop trash. Responses are categorized by gender.

15 15 There is not a significant difference in the three regions respondents saying they have littered, this represents a change from Regional – Have you thrown trash on the streets?

16 16 Very little difference is noted in regions on how often they litter.

17 17 Additional analysis shows: Self-reported littering behavior drops as socioeconomic status increases; And, littering behavior drops as people get older.

18 18 A series of questions was asked regarding litter flying out of open bed pickup trucks. 39.7% of respondents own open bed pickup trucks. Of those who own open bed pickup trucks, 79% report that they secure items in the bed.

19 19 Disposal of cigarette butts Several question in the survey poll people about whether they smoke and how they dispose of cigarette butts. 16.2% of respondents said they smoke cigarettes, down from 28% in Over half (56.7%) of these respondents said they safely dispose of their cigarette butts.

20 20 People were asked how often they dispose of their cigarette butts on the ground. There appears to be a slight reduction since the 2006 survey.

21 21 ….how often they throw them out the car window has seen a slight increase since 2006.

22 22 About 60% of respondents said they had seen or heard some form of advertising about litter or the act of littering in the past month. Anti- littering advertising was most often seen on billboards, a significant change from 2006 when television was named most often.

23 23 When asked if they recalled some details of the advertising they had seen, respondents were more likely to report remembering the slogan than the sponsor of the advertising.

24 % of respondents remember seeing or hearing advertising about not littering, up from 40% in Television and Billboards continue to be seen most often. Billboards mentioned more than TV which is a change from NA* Response category not available in 2006

25 25 Respondents were asked what types of advertising they would pay the most attention to about not littering. Television and Billboards continue to be perceived as the most effective.

26 26 Legal Penalties: The vast majority (85.5% up from 81% in 2006) of respondents continue to say that knowledge of legal penalties would stop them from littering.

27 27 Clearly people do not view litter laws as being effective since they don’t perceive them as being enforced. “How often do you think litter laws are enforced?”

28 28 Clearly most respondents were not were aware of any new litter laws in Tennessee.

29 29 Respondents say that it is most often prisoners that pick up trash and litter. “Who do you think picks up trash and litter that’s left on sidewalks, streets, and highways? (Check all that apply) “

30 30 Knowledge of recycling opportunities in community is rising.

31 31 Knowledge of recycling has increased in every region from 2006 to Highest level of awareness is in rural areas.

32 32 The percent of respondents saying they recycle has increased.

33 33 Persons most likely to recycle tend to be: Aware of recycling opportunities Middle Income (not lower or upper) Higher education

34 34 For more information about this study contact: Dr. George Lord


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