Littering has been an age-old problem of the world, especially with the rise of technology, convenience, and single-use, disposable items. The main concern lies within the effects of littering and why it’s bad for the environment.
Many people simply don’t know or don’t care about the environment, hence, they just litter like it has no consequences. However, we’ll shed a light on that – we wrote an article about the 10 reasons why littering is bad for the environment. Hopefully, this will open minds when it comes to environmental awareness and how even a simple throwing of trash into the right garbage bin will help Mother Nature.
- 1 1. Wildlife Becomes Affected
- 2 2. Risk of Forest and Grass Fires
- 3 3. Littering Affects Rivers and Oceans
- 4 4. Not Enough Dumpsite Space
- 5 5. Clogged Drainages Worsens Floods
- 6 6. Pollution Becomes Worse
- 7 7. Faster Spread of Disease
- 8 8. Litter Destroys Animal Habitats
- 9 9. Poor Soil Quality
- 10 10. Contributes to Climate Change
1. Wildlife Becomes Affected
When we litter plastics in a forest, natural reserve, beach, or anywhere else in the world, there’s a big chance that animals in the wild might mistake them for food. This, in turn, will affect their digestive system, causing them to get sick and eventually die if they aren’t nursed to health.
Trash can also end up in the seas – many whales and turtles felt the punishment of accidentally swallowing plastics, especially straws and garbage bags, which is the cause of human laziness and irresponsibility.
Long story short, we’re taking care of the animals if we stop littering. Our waste should not get in their home or ecosystem so that they’ll be far away from toxic chemicals that only we, humans, can tolerate and use for our gain.
2. Risk of Forest and Grass Fires
Littering has a risk of causing fires, especially if you leave cigarette butts and the like lying around. Without the use of a proper ashtray, forest and grass fires are possible.
Think twice before you smoke – you’re not only causing air pollution to worsen with the fumes but you’re also contributing to the risk of animals losing their home and causing damage to plants and trees. This is an even more difficult situation if the fire affected crops such as fruits and vegetables, which would have been our food resources.
Fires happening in nature are either man-made or natural. Nonetheless, the natural part could still be caused by environmental problems such as global warming due to climate change, which is caused by the depletion of the ozone layer. Unmanaged toxic garbage that releases fumes to break the ozone layer is among the reasons why littering is bad for the environment.
3. Littering Affects Rivers and Oceans
Throwing trash in rivers and beaches affects both wildlife and the bodies of water themselves. Water pollution is inevitable if people keep throwing garbage in the wrong places. It contaminates the water, leaving behind chemicals that are toxic to fishes and other marine life.
Detergents and factory waste aren’t the only ingredients to toxic water – even just carelessly disposing of garbage that has chemicals could damage rivers and oceans. Therefore, it pays to be responsible when managing trash that has such chemicals, such as electronic waste and household cleaners.
If our bodies of water become heavily polluted, this affects the fishes and other marine life. Within the onset of global warming where sea temperatures rise, these marine creatures would also inevitably consume such harsh chemicals.
4. Not Enough Dumpsite Space
Think about it: if plastic doesn’t melt into the soil like biodegradable items such as food waste and organic matter, what space do we have left in the world’s landfills today? Trash management becomes a serious problem, especially for countries with little to no space for their garbage.
The sad reality is that some countries resort to finding other countries to dump their trash, which is all kinds of wrong. To prevent landfills from running out of space, it’s important to think twice about what we manufacture, buy, and throw out.
We should recycle what we can recycle and avoid too much consumption of non-biodegradable items. When we practice green measures, less garbage needs to be thrown out, resulting in landfills feeling less pressured with space constraints. After all, toxic waste is also bad for the soil and if it doesn’t go away soon, it will seep through water systems.
5. Clogged Drainages Worsens Floods
If you live in urban areas, chances are, you’re going to encounter flood problems, especially if the garbage disposal isn’t very strict. Cities and towns with trash problems are also likely to encounter worse floods. But why?
Floods rise higher (and the water gets even dirtier and more toxic) if the streets have clogged drainages. These drainages are the only way to keep the city or town away from flooding, so if they are blocked by garbage, they won’t do their job properly. On top of that, flooding causes harmful diseases such as leptospirosis from rats.
The solution to this problem is simple: human discipline and government action. Littering is a form of laziness so if humans could somehow become more disciplined and be more responsible with the trash that they throw, they won’t have to end up in drainage clogging the water systems.
6. Pollution Becomes Worse
Land and water pollution become worse when you litter. Think about the tons of trash, especially plastic trash, that people throw away each day. When these end up in the ocean and bodies of water, fish inevitably swallow them, causing them to get sick and fall to their death.
Regular citizens aren’t the only people responsible for water pollution caused by garbage – some companies are also irresponsible in their waste disposal. The worst-case scenario is that some of these companies dump toxic trash into the sea, which worsens the water quality for the marine life to live. It’s such a sad sight to see.
We can do something about this. If companies and regular citizens become more informed and responsible about what they throw away, then our wildlife and marine life won’t have to suffer. Fishes and other aquatic resources are also considered natural resources where we can get food if we lose resources from our lands. If we poison them with harmful garbage, we’ll have problems in the future.
7. Faster Spread of Disease
Improper garbage disposal leaks out various bacteria, viruses, and other harmful substances not just to humans but also to animals and nature. Among the diseases you might catch from open garbage include:
- respiratory problems
- skin diseases
- vomiting and diarrhea
- stomach problems
- leptospirosis (during floods)
Moreover, if we don’t throw our trash properly, it becomes open to insects, such as mosquitoes. Such mosquitoes could spread diseases, such as:
- Zika virus
- West Nile virus
If you live in tropical or summery areas where mosquitoes are prevalent, being responsible for your trash is important to protect your loved ones. Even though mosquito bites don’t affect animals that much, they could cause skin irritation.
To prevent such diseases from spreading out, we should not only avoid littering but also manage our trash properly. Simply covering garbage bins tightly will keep them from getting invaded by mosquitoes and other insects, let alone be toppled down by stray cats and dogs.
8. Litter Destroys Animal Habitats
Animal habitats get destroyed by dumping trash everywhere. For example, if our garbage that ends up in the beaches and seas don’t get cleaned, the animals that dwell on the beaches, such as sea birds, marine animals, and the like, won’t have a place to live or to look for food.
In the same way, if the garbage ends up in the sea, it would affect marine life. The litter that we dump to them may contain chemicals and even choking hazards for them. This applies to both sea creatures and land animals. Even our pets could get into accidents if they swallow or get themselves into inorganic trash that could cause injuries.
Bottom line: if we don’t litter, we’re creating a safe environment for all of our animals, stray or pet, land, water, or air.
9. Poor Soil Quality
Littering causes toxic chemicals to seep into the soil, most of which come from plastics and microplastics. Unfortunately, these toxic chemicals get absorbed by certain plants, which, in turn, makes them sick or poor in quality. What this means that the trash that we throw away comes back to us in our crop food.
It’s alarming to know that our trash affects our soil and ends up unknowingly in our fruits and vegetables. To prevent this from happening, we should limit the trash we throw and considerably throw them away in the right place to avoid contaminating plants and the soil. This will keep the soil we have healthy and appropriate for farming.
10. Contributes to Climate Change
Due to the ozone layer getting depleted because of VOCs released by badly-managed garbage, our climate change phenomenon becomes worse.
If we litter less, we’re releasing less of these harsh chemicals into the air, thereby saving our ozone layer. Let’s become responsible for our trash and have them properly managed by the authorities to avoid causing environmental hazards in the long run.
Name: Rebecca Tarvin
Discipline: Integrative biology
Degrees: B.A., Biology, Boston University, 2010; Ph.D., Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Austin,2017
Rebecca Tarvin is broadly interested in integrating studies of natural history with molecular genomics and phylogenetics. Specifically, she aims to elucidate causal genetic mechanisms underlying novel traits, characterize phenotypic diversification at macro and micro-evolutionary scales, and identify factors that promote and constrain biodiversity.
She also likes to write about eco-friendly lifestyle and other material alternatives that are eco-friendly, aside from other ways to save Mother Earth