St. Charles Herald-Guide

Keep Louisiana Beautiful ...

Staff Report - March 7, 2007

The volunteer group Keep Louisiana Beautiful is sponsoring its third annual anti-litter campaign weekend March 8 - 10, called “Zero Tolerance For Litter.” The effort is expected to send a strong message from enforcement agencies that litterbugs will be actively pursued and fined.

Littering in Louisiana can result in fines from $50 to $5,000 and from four to 100 hours of community service. In addition, driver’s license suspension and jail time are possible penalties.

Sound too harsh? Consider this - Litter costs Louisiana taxpayers more than $15 million annually. It also degrades the environment, hurts fish and wildlife and contributes to flooding problems.

Here’s the “dirty lowdown” on litter from Keep Louisiana Beautiful. For more information, check out the group online at

Litter trivia

1. The four most common litter items in Louisiana are cigarettes, fast-food packaging, candy/snack packaging, and beverage containers.

2. Litter is a health risk to you and your pet as it attracts rodents, vermin and germs.

3. Cigarette butts are dangerous to wildlife and have been found in the stomachs of cats, dogs, birds and squirrels.

4. Litter takes a long time to biodegrade. An orange peel takes six months, a plastic bag up to 20 years and paper up to five months.

5. Litter directly costs Louisiana taxpayers $15 million annually in cleanup costs and environmental damage and its consequences.

6. Litter contributes to flooding when it collects in canals preventing water from draining properly.

Litter law

Intentional littering is intentionally disposing of litter in a public place or on private property not owned by the offender. Intentional littering can result in fines of $250 and eight hours of community service in a litter abatement program.

Simple littering includes creating a condition in which the person knew (or should have known) would likely result in the disposal of litter on public or private property not belonging to the offender. Using a truck bed as a garbage can or throwing a cigarette butt out a window is simple littering.

Fines for simple littering start at either $75 or eight hours of community service. Penalties are doubled for second-time offenders.