A little litter, a lot of problems

A Better You

SPRINGFIELD, Mo — It’s just a little litter. What’s the big deal?

It’s a huge deal, says Laurie Davis, education outreach coordinator at the Department of Environmental Services. 

Davis says what ends up on the streets, lawns, parking lots and playgrounds eventually get washed into local rivers, lakes and streams and keeping them clean is an ongoing battle.  

During the spring of 2018-2020, staff at the city’s Environmental Services collaborated with James River Basin Partnership to conduct trash assessments from different sections of streams within city limits. They measured 100 areas of streams and gathered and categorized the trash found. 

These stream trash assessment locations were in different areas with varying land uses, including residential and commercial. 

The primary types of trash collected for this representative sample included plastics, paper products, cigarette butts, metals, construction-related, glass, biohazard, toxic, and others.


  • Nearly 60% of the trash found in streams is plastic
  • 60% of the plastics were single-use plastics, 30% plastic bags, and 10% other
  • On average, there were 155 pieces of trash found in the study areas (628,324 pieces of trash in Springfield area streams)
  • On average, there were 14 cigarette butts found in the stream (57,797 cigarette butts in Springfield area streams)

The solution:

Well, we have a long way to go. Of course, it begins with not littering and trying your best not to litter unintentionally. Pick up trash when you see it, and to be even more active in these efforts, you can join Clean Green Springfield, going on through April and May. 

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