Overheard: “Sad, isn’t it, that most of us Indians just do not comprehend the concept of a trash-can.” This comment was from a concerned Indian, who followed this comment by picking up the carelessly discarded receipt (by someone else) and dropping it in the nearby bin. A laudable act, but just how many of us really do care? How many of us take the extra two steps and ensure that our waste falls in the trash bin? When it comes down to it, how clean do we keep our city?
There is no denying the plain fact that littering makes our lands, roads, beaches and cities look disgusting. But litter is much more than just an eyesore. Litter is a threat to public health; it attracts vermin and is a breeding ground for bacteria, disease-causing insects and rodents. Stagnating water in open containers such as paper cups are fertile breeding havens for mosquitoes. Items such as broken glass and syringes can be a health hazard in public places. Accumulated litter and carelessly discarded cigarette butts are potential fire hazards. Thanks to litter, stray dogs and rodents rule our city streets as there is ample supply of easy food. Litter can harm or kill wildlife – plastic litter can choke or suffocate birds and marine life.
Carelessly discarded containers can trap small mammals. Even a small insignificant thing like a cigarette butt is harmful; cigarette butts and filters have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds and whales, who have mistaken them for food. Litter discarded in streets and parks travel through the storm water system to our bays and oceans, where it can cause harm to sea life. Litter is a traffic hazard too; stuff thrown carelessly from a moving vehicle can cause pedestrian and automobile accidents. Litter brings down the property value; who wants to invest in an area that’s infested with garbage and muck? And above all, litter makes a beautiful place look bad.
While most of this data is common knowledge, there is still no respite from litter. And the irony is that more than half of all littering actually takes place just a few feet away from a garbage can. With so many known negative aspects to littering, why is it still so prevalent? Its time every individual took a stance against littering. Parents need to influence their children by setting an example themselves. A little initiative can go a long way.
A few suggestions…
Litter attracts litter; after all most people tend to throw more garbage on a pile that they see lying around.
Hold onto litter until you can put it in a trash container. And make sure you drop it into the can and not next to it.
Keep a litter-bag in your car.
Use an ashtray or ash receptacle. Cigarette butts are litter too!
Make sure your household garbage containers are secured with a lid to prevent stray animals and crows from spreading the litter around.
Apply peer pressure on your friends to stop littering.
Catch the litterbug and educate them – politely.