This is an excerpt from an article written by Lou Blouin. See the entire article here Source: https://www.alleghenyfront.org/the-psychology-of-littering/
... It turns out, there are actually people who study this topic. Among them is California State University social psychologist Wesley Schultz... Schultz says the establishment of that social norm against littering was a game changer. But social norms aren’t 100 percent effective in themselves. And with littering, Schultz’s research showed that people most often break that taboo for really practical reasons.
“We found that the distance to a trash receptacle was the strongest predictor of littering,” Schultz says. “So the farther away you are from a trash can or a recycling container, the more likely you are to litter.” ...
So if cities put trash or recycling containers in public spaces, people start doing the right thing again. And Schultz says this proves a basic assumption we make about litterers is totally wrong—namely, that people who litter, just do it because they don’t care.
“Often times people do care. But it’s too much of a hassle, it’s too inconvenient. And so people do litter, even though they already care about it,” Schultz says.
In other words—and Schultz says you could actually say this for a lot of environmental issues—we don’t mind doing the right thing as long as it’s not too disruptive to the way we live our lives. And it’s also clear that we have a huge influence on each other.
“The presence of existing litter was strongly predictive of littering behavior. So if you’re in a place that’s already highly littered, you’re much more likely to litter than if you’re in a place that’s clean or free of litter.”