Understanding Littering and the Secrets to Clean Public Places

By Karen Spehr and Rob Curnow

Everything about why people litter in a single volume. Learn from experienced environmental psychologists about the power of social norms, promoting personal responsibility and using rewards and penalties to keep your public places clean.



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“Litter-ology successfully translates theory into practice. Want to know why people litter in public places and how this can be stopped? Read this book”.

NATACHA DOBROVOLSKY, CSIRO Environmental Sustainability Engagement Leader




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About the book …


Imagine if all our public places were clean and free of litter. The litter in parks, beaches, shops, transport stops, waterfronts and roads wouldn’t be ending up in stormwater, polluting our waterways. It would end up where it belongs – in the bin. In Litter-ology, environmental psychologists Karen Spehr and Rob Curnow share their insights gained in over 20 years working on changing people’s disposal behaviour in public places. They help us understand:

•Why people litter (and why they use the bin)

•Who litters and how they do it

•What people say about their littering is not necessarily what they do

•How social norms work to prevent littering

•Personal responsibility and littering

•The power of rewards and penalties 

Based on up to date research evidence, Litter-ology is a highly readable guide for all those who are trying to get results in keeping their public places clean and litter free. 



Reviewers say …


 “The most comprehensive treatise of littering behaviour ever written. Highly recommended.”

- JOHN SCHERT, Executive Director, The Bill Hinkley Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, University of Florida


 “Narrating real-world case studies, a comprehensive and insightful conversation about the who, when, where, how and why behind littering. Practical and enlightening, an invaluable tool for anyone who’s serious about tackling litter.”

- DAVID IMRIE, Chief Executive, Keep NSW Beautiful


“Litter-ology reflects all that Keep Auckland Beautiful learned and is now putting into practice. It will be a tremendous tool.” 

- IRIS M. DONOGHUE MNZM, Chairperson, Keep Auckland Beautiful


“Litter-ology will be of great assistance whenever I have decided on a solution to the problem before checking my assumptions. Every disposer should read it at least once.” 

- STAN MOORE, CEO, Australian Packaging Covenant


“This lively, informative book helps demystify behavior and provides smart tips and strategies for reducing litter. We’ll draw on Litter-ology for our community-focused marine debris prevention programs.” 

- CJ REYNOLDS, University of South Florida College of Marine Science, and Executive Director, International Ocean Institute-USA






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About the authors

Karen Spehr and Rob Curnow are psychologists who have been working on changing peoples’ behaviour in relation to the environment for over 20 years. Co-directors of Community Change, they facilitate positive change in littering behaviour, household water use and energy saving. They specialise in matching what people say they do with what they actually do to achieve long-term measurable environmental change.