Every once in a while I’ll see a road crew picking up trash along the highway, but beyond that I don’t see very much thought towards litter. I live outside the city limits, not quite in the country, but now in town either. There are two roads that I think about when I say this, one, is a main road and it’s kind of bad, but not too bad and then the second is a really crappy road. Driving on it is like asking for your tire to be ripped off. Everyone once in a while a crew will come in and patch it up with tar which is gone in like a day. Then there is a road just a few blocks down that run parallel and they fixed it up like brand new. Anyway, I see tons of trash, beer cans, cups, food containers everything when I go down this road. One time I decided to go and pick up the trash along the first road and then work my way down to the second. The problem in doing the first road first was that cars were whizzing by and I kept thinking I was going to die, so I chickened out of the second road because I knew that that road would be 100 times worse and I would probably die even faster because cars are so focused on dodging the pot holes instead of caring about my safety. That’s what seems to happen to most of the animals anyway. Litter is a horrible thing to keep around and here’s why:
1.) Litter in the streets and parks can travel through storm drains to bays and oceans, where it harms wildlife
- 7 Billion tons of debris enter the world oceans annually. Most of it is long lasting plastic.
- An estimated 100,000 sea mammals and turtles are killed by plastic litter every year.
- A sperm whale found dead on a North American beach was discovered to have starved to death because a plastic gallon bottle which it had swallowed had plugged its small intestine. The animal was full of plastic material ranging from other plastic bottles to 12m of nylon rope. If it bring down a sperm whale, it can bring down us.
2.) Litter cost money. Removing litter cost everyone who pays taxes.
According to http://www.greenecoservices.com/the-high-cost-of-litter-millions-of-taxpayer/ ,California spent the most tax dollars to pick up litter and they spent 62 million dollars picking up litter. West Virginia spent the least and they spent 1 million. Outrageous. Cigarette butts comprised the largest percentage of litter at 38 percent. http://earth911.com/news/2009/12/11/litter-costs-the-u-s-11-5b-annually/
3.) Threat to Public Health. Attracts rats and other rodents and is a breeding ground for bacteria.
4.) Litter can be a fire hazard.
5.) Looks bad, and can affect the value of your home and business.
6.) Can affect local economy, especially in tourist locations.
7.) Litter breeds other litter. Sends out message that people don’t care.
8.) Harm or kill wildlife.
10.) It demoralizing and disgusting.
I found an article a while back, I hadn’t planned on writing about litter then, so I don’t have a link. It talked about the people throwing away the litter. The writer didn’t understand how they could be so selfish and apathetic. He used yell at people or he would pick up the trash and throw it back into their car. He was a brave and upity fellow until his friend, who also did this, had a gun pulled on him and had a bullet graze his head. Yes, you read that right. So that changed his mindset quite a bit. He decided that shame could be a better tactic. Anytime he saw people throw trash out their window he would walk right in front of them, pick it up, lock eyes and then throw it away. He talked about how shame is a much effective tactic. I wish had the link, it was quite an interesting read. Instead, I have a list of ways to prevent litter without getting shot.
How to Prevent Litter
1. Set an example by not littering.
2. Pick up one piece of litter every day.
3. Every week, pick up all the litter in front of your house, including the street
4. Ask your neighbors to properly dispose of their trash. Show them the difference between a clean area and an area spoiled by litter, and stress why it’s important to put trash in proper containers. (Do this nicely and without an attitude, it might have the possibility of being shot)
5. Make sure that your trash cans have lids that can be securely attached. If you have curbside trash service, don’t put out unopened containers or boxes filled with trash.
6. Carry a litter bag in your car. Ask local businesses to buy car litter bags and distribute them to customers. Encourage them to print their names and an environmental message on the bag.
7. Ask your neighbors and or friends to join you in cleaning up one public area where litter has accumulated.
8. If you or a member of your family is involved in a civic group, scouting, or recreational sports program, encourage the group to become involved in a cleanup.. Or have the group “adopt” a spot and maintained it on a regular basis.
9. Find out how you can plant and maintain flowers along a curb or sidewalk. People litter less where areas have been beautified.
10. Ask business owners to check their dumpsters every day to make sure tops and side doors are closed. If the business has a loading dock, ask them to keep it clean, and to put out a receptacle for employees to use.
11. Ask business owners to provide trash cans in front of their business with a sign.-Please do not litter
12. If you own a construction or hauling business, make sure your trucks are covered when transporting material to and from sites. Use snow fencing around construction or demolition sites to prevent debris from being blown into other areas. Put trash containers on every floor for construction workers.