SEATTLE — Washington state has a litter problem and a two-time Stanley Cup champion is adding his muscle to a new awareness campaign to encourage Washingtonians to stop litter at its source.
After more than two decades, the Washington Department of Ecology released a statewide litter study that catalogued and analyzed the debris - from fast food bags to cigarette butts and the many other discarded items that pile up along the roadside.
The study found a concerning trend that Washington state is well ahead of the national average in regard to roadside litter. The study reveals an average of 8,112 pieces of litter per mile on Washington roads. The National average is 5,714 pieces per mile.
Highways are the most difficult to clean but also provide the most serious consequences for public safety. Every year in Washington, debris from unsecured loads causes more than 300 traffic crashes and 30 injuries. Five deaths are attributed to large debris falling from unsecured loads in 2022.
The Washington Department of Ecology said the overall study amounts to 38 million pounds of waste from 7.1 billion items littered each year on our state’s roads, parks, and recreation areas.
“It amounts to around five pounds of litter for each person in the state,” said Amber Smith-Jones, statewide litter prevention coordinator with Ecology.
Smith-Jones teamed up with Tina Werner from the Washington State Department of Transportation and Seattle Kraken forward Yanni Gourde for an awareness event at Seattle Center to boost it’s We Keep Wa Litter Free campaign and outreach efforts this September. Free reusable trash bag for vehicle used will be distributed around the state as an example of a simple measure that could make a big impact.
Gourde makes a living playing under the roof of the worlds most sustainable arena and has joined the cause to encourage people to consider the serious impacts litter has on Washington’s wildlife, public health, safety, and even the economy.
“It’s important to be because I live her and my family is here so we can all help keep this place beautiful,” said Gourde.
He engaged with fans at Seattle Center and even demonstrated a few slap shots sending debris in to garbage cans and cans in to the recycle bin.
“It’s gonna take a team,” said Gourde.
You can learn more about how you can help keep Washington state litter free online.