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What's your Littering Behaviour? - Mazingira Safi Initiative
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Did you know that there’s a difference between litter and waste? If you didn’t, let me enlighten you.

Waste is anything you don’t need anymore. The empty plastic bottle that contained the water you just drank, the wrapper that neatly tucked your sweet away from contamination or the food that remained on your plate since you served more than you could finish. All these are examples of waste.

Litter is waste in the wrong place. That means, if you put the emptied plastic water bottle, the sweet wrapper or the remaining food anywhere else other than in a litter bin, it becomes litter. Hence the term ‘littering’. It is this littering of small pieces of waste that slowly by slowly become huge, smelly dumpsites outside our homes, estates and everywhere you see them.

It’s almost impossible to not generate any waste as a human being. What is possible to do though is not to litter. What’s most peculiar about littering is that it’s a behaviour exhibited ONLY by human beings. Yet we are the smartest species to walk this earth!

Littering behaviours can be positive or negative. Positive littering behaviours are behaviours that discourage littering. They are found in people who love themselves and their environment Negative behaviours are those which encourage littering. They’re usually found in people who have no love within them and most likely don’t care that they’ll live their children in an environment riddled with waste.

As I did my research on littering, I found the following hilarious illustrations on littering behaviours. These illustrations are from an organization called Community Change. An organization run by psychologists who major in changing people’s behaviour to help the environment. How lit is this?

Luckily, they have allowed us to use the illustrations. Take a look at them and see which of them describe you and our fellow countrymen and leave a comment.

Illustrations courtesy of, and acknowledgement due to: Copyright Community Change, 2003, Cartoonist Kerry Millard.

Positive littering behaviours 🙂

  1. CHASING – Running after litter which has blown away. Yet to see someone do this.

2. COACHING – Prompting others to do the right thing. Kenyans have a way of insulting someone when they’re told off for littering. Most of the time they be like: “Kwani barabara ni yako?” or “Huku ni kwenyu? or even “Kanjo watafagia.” Still, brave the insults because you have communicated already.


3. DO-IT-YOURSELFING – Bringing your own containers to take items home for disposal. This should be highly encouraged especially during picnics. “Toka na takataka yako. usiiwache nyuma.” (Leave with your trash. don’t leave it behind.)


4. INTERVENING – Suggesting others pick up litter they have dropped. See numbe two above.


5. MARSHALLING – Coordinating people to work together to clean up. Shouldn’t we all be like this everyday.


6. THE ASSIST – Picking someone’s trash if they miss the bin (aka foulshot). Isn’t this what the County does for its citizens daily?

the assist

7. TRAIL BLAZING – Going out of your way to find a bin when there isn’t one nearby. Instead of us complaining that there are no bins, why not hold on to our waste, for as long as it’s necessary, until we see one?

 trail blazing

8. VOLUNTEERING – Cleaning up after someone else. While very noble, we should reach a point where the only people we’re cleaning up after are babies who cannot walk!


9. COMPACTING – Stuffing items into an over full bin, even if your hands get dirty. Highly encouraged.


Negative Littering Behaviours 🙁

1. 90%ING – Most items are put in the bin but some are left behind. Use bins properly.

90% ing

2. FLAGRANT FLINGING – Throwing or dropping items with no apparent concern. Most of us are guilty of this. “Afterall, Kanjo watafagia.” Don’t be this parent, please.

flagrant flinging

3. FOUL SHOOTING – A missed throw at a litter bin. We can see you office people and our energetic youth.


4. GRINDING – Grinding items into the ground & leaving them there. All smokers arise!


5. UNDERSEATING – Placing items under the seat especially in matatus. And they do it so slowly making sure their matatu neighbour doesn’t witness this act. Guilty conscience judging them right there!


6. UNDERTAKING – Items are buried, often in the sand at the beach. Especially along our beaches during holidays.


7. WEDGING – Items are stuffed into gaps between seats and other places. This is also done in matatus.


8. BRIMMING – Happens in Australia; going half way by putting butts and gum on the bin rim but not all the way inside. In Kenya, sticking chewing gums under seats, lecture desks, beds, anything you can find.


9. CLEAN SWEEPING – When arriving at a table where others have littered, sweeping items onto the ground. We all do this subconsciously especially when the items are tiny.

clean sweeping

10. IMPROVISING – Putting items in objects that are not bins (cardboard boxes, plastic bags or beverage containers) & then leaving them behind. How accurate! Especially plastic bottles and yoghurt cups.


11. SURREPTITIOUS RELEASING – Discretely littering and moving away as if nothing had happened. Especillay seen in matatus and bus stops.

surreptious releasing

The conclusion, littering isn’t a behaviour human beings should have.

So, which of these behaviours are associated with you and your family or friends? Let us know.

Much has been said about the lack of bins in the city of Nairobi. Keep it here. Good news loading soon.

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2 Replies to “What’s your Littering Behaviour?”

May 7, 2019

Insightful! I’m guilty of wedging, especially bus tickets. Most times I tuck them inside tiny spaces in between seats. And if everyone is to do that, the bus seats don’t really look nice.

Purity Wanjohi
May 7, 2019

Hahahahahaha! Now that you know, you have no excuse but to do better.


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