Category Archives: Littering

Bremerton, shuck all the peanuts you want (it’s not actually illegal)


“Everything that anyone ever posted to the Internet is true.”

Said no one, ever.

Yes, we all know inaccuracies litter the information superhighway. But one of the World Wide Web’s most inaccurate rumors about Bremerton is that it is against the law to shuck peanuts on city streets. We see it pop up on social media sites every few weeks, and it is proclaimed to be accurate on several websites pertaining to “dumb laws.”

Bottom line: There is no truth to it whatsoever.

After seeing it so many times, I decided to investigate the city’s code in an effort to determine its veracity.

Nothing there I could find.

I checked with Mark Koontz, Bremerton’s assistant city attorney, who agreed that there is just no such thing on the books.

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“There’s no truth to that,” he said.

If you shuck your peanuts onto the city street, that could be considered littering, Koontz added.

But that would apply to anywhere with a littering code. And the websites are quite specific: you shall not shuck peanuts on the streets of our fine city.

Perhaps it had been a law in the past, only to be repealed?

I consulted Bill Broughton, prominent area lawyer and one time the city’s attorney in the 1980s. He’d never heard of such a thing.

“That’s a new one on me,” he said. “We did set a goal of repealing antiquated laws when I was there but I do not remember this one.”

I turned to Russell Warren, one of Bremerton’s sharpest minds when it comes to area history. He hadn’t heard of it either.

I even emailed some of the purveyors of websites which purport the law to be the truth.

I heard back from one — Andy Powell at — who said he was looking into the source. Other web sites never responded.

So far, I have been unable to find a single source of the perceived law. My hope is to debunk it officially. So I humbly ask for your help, dear readers, on this journey.

I would love to hear from any of you who knows where it may have come from. Drop a line below, or send me an email at

One of the most intriguing parts of the mystery is the idea peanuts would be singled out as unlawful to shuck. Perhaps an odd vendetta against the bean by an anti-peanut former mayor?

Regardless, I stand firm in the belief the law is hogwash.

Earth Day Special: Washington’s Garbage is Oregon’s Gold

Blogger’s Note: This is the third entry in a series looking at the crime of littering. It is also an update in recognition of Earth Day 2009.

Here’s one way to stop a litterer: pay them.

Or rather, refund them. That’s what Oregon’s done since 1971, using a practice now followed in 12 states. Known as the “bottle bill,” the law bumps up the price of a beverage and hooks the consumer into recycling it by paying them back, in most of the states, a nickel per can or bottle. The policy aimed to not only decrease litter but increases recycling.

Washington, by contrast, was also a 1970s vanguard in a different method of combating its scattered garbage: a litter tax on about a dozen industries that generates $7 million a year for public awareness programs and clean up efforts, according to The Tax Foundation.

Which method was more effective? Judging by the sheer amount of cans and bottles I picked up along Bremerton’s Wheaton Waybelieved to account for 40 to 60 percent of litter — Oregon has a leg up on at least that brand of unsightly rubbish. A downside of the litter tax, points out The Tax Foundation’s Andrew Chamberlain, is that businesses simply pass on the tax to push up prices. “That means it will tax every consumer regardless of whether they litter, penalizing a large majority for the behavior of a tiny minority of litterers,” he wrote.

Oregon’s bottle bill, too, does increase costs. But such a policy creates economic incentive to recycle — not just bureaucracy, PR campaigns and state-sponsored cleanups. Oregon even recently added water and flavored water bottles to its list. “It’s about dang time,” an editorial in The News-Review of Roseburg said. says the policy cuts down on litter anywhere between 34 and 64 percent.

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Kitsap’s Litterers Caught by the Cops

Poulsbo Cop Nick Hoke watched from his patrol car last month as a motorist tossed a bag of six used whipped cream cans onto the side of the road. When Hoke stopped the man, and asked how often he littered, the man’s reply was quick and simple.

“Almost never,” the man said.

Those of you who follow this blog know we recently took a look at the secret lives of litterers in an informal investigation. We found out who some of these litterers are, why they do it, and one way we can stop them from trashing up this place called Kitsap.

Next up in the discussion: how has law enforcement dealt with litterers?

Port Orchard Detective Marvin McKinney says a pet peeve of his on patrol are those who litter the roads with cigarette butts. I think it’s probably something many of us have in common with him. McKinney had a rather creative way of dealing with a butt litterer one time.

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The Secret Lives of Litterers (An Informal Kitsap Sun Investigation)

Littering, unquestionably, is a horrible thing. It creates habitats for disease infested insects and rodents; it harms wildlife; and most notably (and selfishly) for us humans, it creates an eyesore and dilapidates our communities. It’s also illegal, by penalty of fine or even jail.

Yet against our laws and outrage, why are our streets covered in — to put it bluntly — discarded crap? And who are these litterers, and why do they do it?

On Sunday, I decided to find out. But it’s hard to catch a litterer in the act to ask them. (That’s our first clue in this little investigation: litterers are secretive about their trashy ways.)

So to peer inside a litterer, I looked to the litter itself. In two bags worth of junk I collected on Wheaton Way in Bremerton, here’s some VERY informal observations:

* Litterers have protected sex. There were numerous condoms and their wrappers strewn around. (Good thing I wore gloves.)

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