So what's up with all the litterbugs in the District? And why are they the way they are -- especially the biggest offenders, young folks between the ages of 12 and 24?
The D.C. Public Works Department wants to find out and today, it's calling in focus groups of youth and adults to the Reeves Center to get at the existential questions of why do people litter and, more importantly, why is there a "growing culture of apathy toward littering" in the District.
"We're trying to understand it and develop messages that might reach that target audience that studies show are most likely to litter: young people," says DPW spokeswoman Nancee Lyons.
Last fall, DPW aired public service ads aimed at teenagers and young adults. Since then, DPW had its own answering to do to irate residents who complained at a D.C. Council oversight hearing about sloppy trash collections that resulted in missed pickups and the L Word -- litter -- being left behind on streets and alleys.
DPW hopes that the focus group discussions and a follow-up town hall meeting in May will help the agency develop a new public awareness campaign aimed at cultivating "a whole new generation of young people that feel like littering is morally wrong," said Lyons.
DPW is also looking for young people who have been fighting litter and graffiti in their neighborhoods to call (202) 671-2637 to see if their stories might be worth filming for an upcoming public education show.
The highest number of litter complaints called in to DPW come from Ward 1, followed by Wards 2, 5, and 7, officials say. Is excessive litter a problem on your block? Let us know.