Cure for Litter

Picking up litter

The only Cure for Litter is you. Litter is an community challenge and it takes a community to overcome it. The Region of Waterloo proudly partners with local municipalities, Adopt-A-Road program, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), and others to promote waste reduction and litter prevention across the region. 

Looking to join a community litter cleanup? Find your municipal contact in the Get Involved section below.

Tips to reduce litter all year round:

  • Prevent!  Do not overfill your blue box and use these easy tips if you are setting out waste on windy days.
  • Reduce!  Think of ways to reduce waste, such as refusing straws, and reusing jars for storage.
  • Recycle more! Out and about and can't find recycling bins? Bring your waste home to put in your green bin and blue box.

To report litter issues:

  • For general concerns, please call the Region of Waterloo's 24-hour customer service call centre at 519-575-4400.
  • For garbage and litter issues at bus stops and ION station stops, use the Grand River Transit feedback form.

For more litter information, email us.

Top 4 reasons why we need to care about litter

Some litter is caused by mistakes or unexpected issues, such as wind blowing items out of a blue box. Sadly, some litter is done on purpose, such as when someone drops items on the ground or throws litter out of their vehicle.     

Why we need to care about litter:   

  1. Litter destroys the beauty of the community.
  2. Litter encourages more litter. One piece of litter on the ground can incite more litter.
  3. Every year, millions of birds, fish and animals die from eating litter.
  4. Litter can harm plant life by stunting plant growth.

Get involved: Find litter events and contacts for litter cleanups

There are four different ways you can get involved in litter events:

1. Events organized by local municipalities. Use the contact information below to check with your local municipality. 

  • City of Cambridge: Residents can still their part to keep our city clean and safe. When enjoying our parks and trails, please take any waste, such as masks and gloves, and dog waste home with you to dispose of properly. For more information, visit Cambridge City Green or email City Green.
  • City of Kitchener: Visit Love My Hood - Neighbourhood Greening program.
  • City of Waterloo: View their Environment web page for community litter programs and annual environmental events.
  • North Dumfries Township: Please call their Recreation and Community Services at 519-632-8800 ext. 102.
  • Wellesley Township: Please call the Wellesley Township office at 519-699-4611.
  • Wilmot Township:  Please call the Wilmot Township office at 519-634-8444.

  • Woolwich Township: Please check with the Township office for details at 519-514-7027.

2. Region of Waterloo's Adopt-a-Road program: Adopt-a-Road is a program for volunteers to clean up Regional roads. For more information, go to our Roads and Traffic page.

3. Ontario's Day of Action on Litter: The Province of Ontario's Day of Action on Litter is scheduled for May 10, 2022. Please see Act on Litter for details.  

4. Your own litter cleanup: Please check with your local municipality first (see contacts above). If a cleanup is possible, discuss and confirm:

  • Instructions
  • Litter cleanup supplies
  • Collection of all the litter cleanup debris. Do not leave garbage bags of collected litter in parks or on trails without arranging collection ahead of time. Note: Garbage bags of collected litter placed out for curbside garbage collection count as part of the household's garbage limit. 

Litter promotional material for your use

Logo:  Feel free to use our litter logo but you must use just the litter message, you cannot add your name or any identifier to it. Download the logos:

Title 1 Title 2

The only cure for litter logo - stacked.

The only cure for litter logo - horizontal.


Posters: Download from our series of anti-litter posters called You litter, people notice.

To keep the litter message fresh, change up the posters using the many kinds of litterers: the Flicker, the Foul Shooter, the Wedger, the Incher or the Undertaker. And the general poster, You litter, people notice.

The drop The tosser poster The Undertaker poster The wedger The incher  

 Download the FLICKER 

Download the FOUL SHOOTER Download the UNDERTAKER

Download the WEDGER

Download the INCHER

The drop        

Download the You litter? People notice.

Exterior signs: Order an exterior sign for your municipality, commercial, industrial or institutional facility. Email for more details.
The only cure for litter is you sign 24 x 24

24 x 24 inch sign


The only cure for litter is you sign 17 x 11  17 x 11 inch sign $20  

Sign Requirements: It is your responsibility to install and maintain the signs. Sign locations have to be in an area you have authority over; not block the vision triangle; and, follow local signage By-laws.

Flyer: Tips to prevent litter if you are setting out your blue box on a windy day.

History of the Litter Reduction Task Force

The Litter Reduction Task Force was a joint committee created in 2003, involving members from local municipalities, schools, as well as the Ministry of Transportation. The goals for the task force were to:

  • create litter awareness programs and campaigns
  • develop standard by-law enforcement in local municipalities, and
  • encourage activity in our community.

This committee developed the message: 'The only cure for Litter is you'. This strong message has a focused anti-litter call-to-action. And with no logos of the task force on the message, the anti-litter promotional materials (available in the section above) can be shared freely.

The success of this joint committee can be easily seen across Waterloo Region. The anti-litter signs are along roadways and trails and in parks, on buses, public buildings, and vehicles. The message has been used in radio commercials, and posters are in schools and municipal buildings. A Cash-for-Trash anti-litter contest engaged several hundred local residents at a lively Region Council meeting.

The committee has been inactive for several years. However, the Region continues with litter messaging, and provides supports local municipalities in their litter cleanups.

Litter facts

The average distance someone will carry garbage before littering is 12 paces.

Most litter occurs within five meters of a garbage receptacle.

The most common items found in cleanups across Canada: Cigarette butts, food wrappers, paper material, plastic bags, plastic drink bottles, pop cans, straws, Styrofoam, miscellaneous packaging, microplastics.  Source: Shoreline Cleanup

How long does litter take to breakdown?

  • Cigarette butt: Five to 10 years. On the ground, these will leach toxins like arsenic and lead.
  • Disposable diaper: 500 years
  • Food can, steel: 50 years (can be recycled in 10 to 14 weeks)
  • Glass drink bottle: One million years
  • Gloves, latex: One to three years to breakdown, another 30 years to decompose.
  • Juice box, plastic-coated paper: Five years (can be recycled in four to six weeks)
  • Orange peel: Six months
  • Plastic bag: 500 to 1,000 years (can be recycled in eight weeks)
  • Plastic drink bottle: One million years (can be recycled in eight to 10 weeks)
  • Pop can: 80 to 100 years (can be recycled in six weeks)
  • Ring can holder, plastic: 450 years
  • Straw, plastic: 200 years
  • Styrofoam cup or tray: 500 (or more) years
  • Tire: 2,000 years
  • Wet wipe: 100 years

Almost every plastic item we have made since the 1950s is still in our environment.[1]

Does litter travel? About 10,000 metric tonnes of plastic waste enters our lakes and rivers each year from Canada and the United States. [2] The sources of this plastic waste include: windblown litter left on the ground, litter carried down rivers into the lakes, stormwater pipes carrying litter from streets, and litter washing into lakes from beaches. 

Litter can be harmful to marine wildlife. Plastic items such as pop bottles and chunks of Styrofoam break apart into tiny pieces called "microplastics" which are five millimetres or less in size. These small pieces of plastics float in the water and are often mistaken as food by wildlife. 

Water bottles: You are the cure for litter! Be sure to carry a refillable water bottle. Find free locations to refill your bottle at Bluew.

Did you know:

  • Making bottled water takes 2,000 times more energy than it does to produce  tap water. Also, it takes three times the amount of water to make the bottle as it does to fill it!
  • Cost for you to refill a 500 ml reusable bottle with our wonderful Region of Waterloo tap water:  $0.0025!



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