Effects of Littering
Littering has caused widespread havoc on the earth’s environment and if actions are not taken to stop this it can cause serious health issues, a rise in pollution, and harm thousands of wildlife. This epidemic has skyrocketed and its effects are devastating. Almost all litter contains some sort of toxins that gets improperly disposed of and it ends up in water or land. If people began to do simple steps to stop littering it could help dramatically bring down popullion levels. If everyone stopped littering, picked up trash when they see it, disposed of trash properly, and had better access to garbage cans that are securely placed it could not only help stop littering but it also helps prevent future and further damage to the environment. Another way to help prevent is spreading the awareness of the repercussions that come with littering. It should be enforced and people should be aware of what could happen. People need to be informed on a regular bases. New information should be circulating constantly. It is easy to turn a blind eye if the effects are happening to that person directly. Awareness is the first step to getting people to stop this epidemic.
When thinking about the idea of littering and why people should care about it the term land ethic gets thrown around. Land ethic refers to the idea of a moral responsibility of humans to the natural world. Humans live in a ecosystem that is delicate and easily harmed; they need to take a responsibly of their waste. Green tax, can only do so much. Consumers are constantly getting taxed for goods and services that aren’t environmentally friendly, but they pay no intention to it. Society as a whole as taken the idea of littering and has written it off as a joke, but it’s no laughing matter.
According to Brian Howard and colleagues at National Geographics, each year about eighteen million pounds of plastic waste ended up in the world’s oceans, lakes, and rivers (Howard et. al, 2018). Marine litter has caused so many problem for the animals that inhabit it. Everything from broken glass, plastic bags, cigarette butts, metal scraps and so many other harmful things get washed away in the ocean and these creatures are eating, suffocating, or injuring themselves on it. Land litter is an equally, if not a larger problem, because it is were all the littering starts. There are many areas where liter comes from such as business and home trash cans, docks and beaches, construction sites, motorists and pedestrians, and busy or over populated areas with little access to proper trash disposals (Howard et. al- 2018).
Land litter can causes a series of problems like fires, accidents, wildlife deaths, and attract rats and harmful bacteria. These bacteria travel through the air, on animals, or even people and spread to community after community. The another big area getting affected is the groundwater people drink. Illegal dumping, littering, and toxic runoff is getting into the water sources and contaminating it.This affects humans directly. If this toxins get to their natural resources then they suffer from lost of food, water, and other important things they need to live.
Steps against Littering
Steps can be taken in everyday life to help stop this issue. The main problem with this is information on how to help fix the issues is out there, but not everybody is seeing it. The people who can actually do something are un or ill informed. In a study conducted by Paola Passafaro and colleagues, they found that there were two dimension for peoples reasoning behind liter. The first is the ‘positive (indulgent) beliefs about littering’, where people minimize the problem and take little responsibility for the issues blaming it on administrations, immigrants, or tourists (Passafaro et. al. – 2015).
The second is the ‘negative beliefs about littering’, where people saw how littering has caused a series of negative effects on the environment and want to change the stigma (Passafaro et. al.-2015). Awareness a key part to stopping this issues. Everyone see liter, but nobody wants to take responsibility or action. Getting awareness out there is not just so people are informed of the effects, but it can help give people solutions and ways to take steps at home or in their town. There are so many ways to get this information out. Clean up crews in town can spread awareness and show initiative to their community. Media is everywhere and everyone has access to it one way or another. Commercials, ads, or even short segments on how to prevent littering could have drastic effects and reach people all around the world. Posters, billboards, stickers, and signs could be hung in high littering areas. These messages could encourage town halls or schools to spread awareness in their towns or remind people of the recussions of littering. In the state of illinois the first conviction is a class B misdemeanor and a fine up to one thousand five hundred dollars (NCSL-2012). The second conviction is a class A misdemeanor and a fine up to one thousand five hundred (NCSL-2012).
Any other conviction after is a class four felony, a fine up to twenty-five thousand dollars, and a jail sentence between one to three years (NCSL-2012). If the violation happens on the highway the punishment is even more severe. They could approach these massages by giving solutions. It can promote steps in every area of littering. For individuals it could promote recycle, picking up litter when they see it and explaining why setting an example is important (Keep Tennessee Beautiful-n.d.). For motorists the message promote having a place to dispose of trash in the car, use a car ashtray, and discourages throwing trash out the window (Keep Tennessee Beautiful-n.d.). For smokers it could stress the harm cigarette butts cause and remind them to be aware of where they are smoking and disposing of their butts (Keep Tennessee Beautiful-n.d.). For pet owners the message could be placed in pet commercials, or on labels for pet products. It can encourage and inform on how to properly dispose of waste (Keep Tennessee Beautiful-n.d.). For people in residential areas the message could be put on buses, or ads, or even local trash cans. It could explain why securing garage cans prevent trash from getting out and stopping wildlife from getting in. Explain why tying the garbage bags before putting in trash can also prevent littering (Keep Tennessee Beautiful-n.d.). For governmental leaders these messages could remind them to led by example. For business owners it could promoted by the local health department, or encourage them to educate their employees, have access to proper dispose, and have trash cans inside and outside of the location.
Informing People about the Issue
There are so many other ways and steps to help these message could send out. If everyone in these positions followed these steps encouraged in these message it gets awareness outhere, it begin to change the stigma and the environment will be cleaned. Just talking about the issues is not going to change peoples mind. Constant information and spreading a negative stigma toward littering could be the change needed. People need to be informed. They need to have access to information and solutions.
Littering is a huge issue that is constantly swept under the rug because its not affecting people directly, but in time it will. It is already causing serious and deathly effects on wild and marine life. If this issues does not stop growing the effects are going to cause natural resources to be containamated, health and disease risk will sprike, and the environment will continue to deplete and die. But if awareness is spread and proper steps are taken this issues could be prevented and severely lowered.
People could have better fruits and vegetable, instead of contaminated by runoff or toxins. Towns will be cleaner and safer to live in. Animals and oceans could once again be without constant trash. The only way to stop this issues is to change the way littering is seen and the only way to do that is to spread awareness and give information on how to stop.