Litter and Adopt-A-Road

Litter

Litter in Whatcom County is caused by many reasons, including illegal dumping, unsecured loads, and unsecured garbage and recycle bins. Every year, thousands of pounds of litter are picked up and disposed of along our county roads.

Secure your Garbage and Recyclables

Roadside litter is also caused by unsecured garbage and recyclables. When garbage and recyclables are set out on a windy day, they can easily get scattered around and end up as litter. Remember to secure your garbage and recyclables, by following these tips:

  • Bag ALL garbage, especially Styrofoam peanuts/packaging, before placing in your garbage toter.
  • If possible, avoid putting your recycle bins out on very windy days. Set them out at the next scheduled pick-up. If setting out, place each recycling bin on the ground. 
  • Bottles, Cans, Glass and Plastic Containers: Place heavier items on top (like glass bottles and jars) to prevent lighter plastics from blowing away. If stacking, place this bin at the bottom of the stack. 
  • Scrap Paper: Place scrap paper in a paper bag and lay bag sideways in bin. If stacking, place this bin in the middle. 
  • Newspaper: Place top layer of newspaper in a paper bag. If stacking, place this bin on top. 
  • Cardboard: Place empty, flattened boxes between recycling bins or on ground with a bin on top to weigh down.
  • DO NOT put recyclables in plastic bags. Plastic bags can jam up and damage sorting machines.

Click the image below to see how you can prevent your household garbage from becoming litter

Secure your garbage and recyclables

Click the image below to see how you can help prevent litter on our roadways

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Secure your Load

Unsecured loads also contribute to litter along our roadways, and can be dangerous to others driving on the roads. Improperly secured items often fall out of truck beds or trailers, and end up as litter on the side of the road. Washington State law imposes jail time and up to $5,000 in fines to anyone who fails to properly secure their load and causes substantial bodily harm. If you are planning to haul a large load, before you start driving, remember to:

  • Secure your load with tarps, netting, rope, bungee cords, and/or straps. Tie large items directly to your vehicle.
  • Put lighter items at the bottom of the load to weigh them down so they don't blow out.
  • Don't overload, keep material level with the truck bed or trailer if at all possible.
  • Always double-check to make sure your load is secured. Loads can move and settle during transport allowing restraints to loosen, it’s a good idea to stop after a few miles to check if your tarp or tie-downs have loosened.

For more information about how to properly secure your load, visit the Department of Ecology

Adopt-A-Road

The Adopt-a-Road program provides a rewarding opportunity for community members, such as church groups, businesses, organizations, or individuals, to help clean up our community. Adopt-a-Road groups perform regular cleanups along their chosen stretch of road, and the county provides cleanup supplies and disposal. Adopt-a-Road volunteers clean up thousands of pounds or garbage from our roadsides every year. 

If you’re interested in starting an Adopt-a-Road group, please review the Adopt-A-Road Information Packet and fill out the Application Form and Volunteer Registration Form. You will be contacted after your application form is received.

If you are interested in joining an existing Adopt-A-Road group, please review the Adopt-A-Road Information Packet and fill out the Volunteer Registration Form. If you have any questions, please contact us at 360-778-6000, or health@co.whatcom.wa.us.

If you performed a cleanup and need to report your activities, please fill out the Adopt-A-Road Activity Report.

All participants of the Adopt-A-Road program must watch the WSDOT safety video prior to any cleanup activities.

Illegal Dumping

Illegal dumping has been and continues to be a problem along our roadsides. County residents dump an average of 50,000 lbs. of trash a year on our local county roads. Illegal dumping contributes to polluting our land and water, and is a public health nuisance, punishable by fines. If you come across an illegal dump on public property, please report it to the Health Department at 360-778-6000, or health@co.whatcom.wa.us.