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The Impact of Littering

Woman with green gloves collecting litter from the environment and placing it into a plastic bag

Littering is one of the biggest issues when it comes to waste management around the world. In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 50 billion pieces of litter are generated annually, and around 80% of that ends up in waterways. In India, it is estimated that about 26,000 tonnes of plastic waste are generated every day, and much of that also end up in the streets and waterways.

Some of the most common issues caused by littering are:

  • Wildlife Harm: Animals may become entangled in discarded items, such as plastic bags and fishing nets, or ingest them, which can lead to injury or death.

  • Soil and Water Pollution: Litter can release harmful chemicals and toxins into the soil and water, polluting these important resources.

  • Disease Transmission: Litter can create breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other disease-carrying insects, increasing the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus.

  • Aesthetic Impact: Littered areas can be unsightly and negatively impact the appearance of our communities. This can lead to a decrease in property values and discourage tourism.

  • Economic Costs: Litter clean-up and prevention can be costly for local governments and businesses, diverting resources away from other important projects.

  • Flooding: Litter, such as plastic bags, bottles, and other debris, can accumulate in storm drains and gutters, blocking the flow of water. This can lead to standing water, which can contribute to flooding during heavy rainfall.

Many people may understand littering as the simple act of improper disposal of rubbish - but we need to consider that littering might also occur unintentionally, due to unsecured household and commercial bins. Unprotected bins can easily be accessed by anyone, increasing the chances of being overflown and tipping over, resulting in rubbish going into the streets and waterways. So when trying to solve the littering problem, we need not only to encourage responsible behavior but also consider the importance of locking up our bins with a bin lock.

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