Littering pre-1970: was it really like Mad Men?

No littering in my family. My dad was really strict about that. He wouldn’t even flick a cigarette butt out the window.

I remember seeing car ashtrays emptied on mall parking lots. It always disgusted me. It’s been years since I saw anything like that. Now I see crack pipes on the ground.

"[O]ff the side of the side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we decided to throw ours down."

I just rewatched Fort Apache today. John Wayne’s character threw a whisky bottle into the Grand Canyon. I was shocked.

Born in 1962. We simply didn’t litter. Huge no-no. Apple cores out the windows? Only exception…

It wasn’t uncommon to see people throwing trash out the window in the early 70s. It started to become taboo as the decade wore on.

That Tennessee Trash video was kind of interesting. There have been many occasions, mainly from one place that I lived where I witnessed people who pulled over to the curb and proceeded to clean out their car. Usually nice dressed older people in a nice car. A couple of them dumping right in front of someone walking down the sidewalk, and once in particular in front of me. Just tossed it off into my yard. Jerks.

There was far more litter in the past. It was definitely something that changed in the 70s.

That said, it’s also a regional thing. Or even a national thing; on my first visit to the UK in 2000, I was shocked and grossed out by how much litter London has. People just drop stuff without a second thought.

Earth Day littering commentary, 1970 or 1971 or so.

We have met the enemy and He is US.

(Scroll down to see the pics.)

I know this is a zombie thread, but neither of the cinemas I go to regularly have these, or convenient bins. One sometimes, but not always, has a staff member with a binbag at the exit.

They also don’t have “don’t talk” adverts, for what that’s worth.

World population has more than doubled since 1960, so there could be both a decline in the rate at which each person litters and an increase in the net amount of trash we see at the same time.

Also, smoking is down, and most of the people I see who are smokers have a much more relaxed attitude toward dropping unwanted things on the ground (everything, not just butts).

That said, I live in a planned, environmentally conscious community in one of the wealthiest and best-educated counties in America, with a community association aggressive about policing up trash. Absolutely optimal conditions for the minimum amount of litter.

…and there is always trash visible in every square yard of woods, bushes, and treelines, and a fair amount rolling/blowing around openly in streets and gutters.

As mentioned, it wasn’t uncommon to see people cleaning their cars by just tossing the stuff out onto the street and people though nothing of emptying their cars’ ashtrays out onto the ground.