Does Litter Really Matter?

A lot of crap ends up in the ocean. Scientists estimate that up to 12 MILLION TONS of plastic enters oceans worldwide every year. That’s the equivalent of one trash truck full every minute. One of the main reasons for this is there’s so much is litter. While some waste comes from fishing vessels and boats, approximately 80% of litter in the sea comes from land. Therefore, one of the main causes of pollution is litter. But hey, if you don’t live by the beach then it doesn’t matter, right? Let’s talk about that.

For one thing, the ocean’s ecosystem isn’t the only one that matters. Of course, the seas determine the overall well-being of our planet, but many people only care about what’s right in their face, so I’ll cover that first.  People need clean water to live, but with pollution there are fewer and fewer clean resources available. Two-thirds of our drinking water comes from rivers and streams. Rivers and streams are fed by groundwater and surface runoff. Chemicals from illegal dumping, litter, sewage, and other things seep into groundwater and litter infects the pureness of the soil that the surface runoff is flowing over. So this isn’t just some far-off problem killing sea birds and turtles, but the whole balance of nature is in danger. We’re not only poisoning ourselves, but also massacring blameless wildlife.

If you do live by the beach and you litter, that’s even worse! Unfortunately, it’s very common. According to Rebecca Lake, “In 2012, more than 10 million pounds of trash was collected from beaches and waterways in 97 countries during a global cleanup effort.” This kills our seas, which kills our planet. There is no “planet B.” We only have one earth to live on, and we’re killing it. This has to stop. The cycle of pollution is delineated in the following image:

 

Documentary filmmaker Mike DeGury voiced my thoughts perfectly: “You can’t possibly filter out these tiny particles from the entire ocean. In fact, so much plastic is in the ocean now in a form that we can’t really get to, that I feel the emphasis needs to immediately shift toward STOP PUTTING IT IN.” Ending littering is a simple three step process: stop littering, pick up litter when you see it, and report when you see someone littering illegally. Every person matters, and we can only set change in motion by changing ourselves first. Litter

Littering has other consequences as well. Apart from destroying ecosystems, litter also inflicts damage on many other aspects of life. Severe automobile accidents have been caused by swerving to avoid trash. Litter is VERY expensive! Millions of dollars are spent picking up trash, and places with lots of litter are less valuable. more likely to be the site of fires. Litter also greatly decreases the amount of tourism in an area as well.

According to Rinkesh from Conserve Energy Future, “The main causes of littering are laziness, ignorance, people don’t realize the effects of littering, the bins are dirty and not big enough, there are not enough bins and moreover those bins aren’t emptied often enough, poor parenting and education, there is no fine for littering, one person can’t make a difference, no sense of pride, not bothered about effects of littering.” That’s just sad. We need to wake up and start caring! Change starts with individuals altering their lifestyles, then encouraging others to do the same. Please share this post and help save the world. If this word gets out, change can happen on a larger scale.

My sources:

Casson, Louisa. “How Does Plastic End up in the Ocean?” Greenpeace International, 23 Aug. 2017, http://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/story/how-does-plastic-end-up-in-the-ocean/.

Revermann, Susan. “How Does Littering Affect the Environment?” What Students Learn From Dissecting a Cow’s Eye | Education – Seattle PI, 21 Nov. 2017, education.seattlepi.com/littering-affect-environment-6802.html.

“Where Does My Drinking Water Come From?” American Rivers, http://www.americanrivers.org/rivers/discover-your-river/drinking-water/.

Scheller, Alissa. “This Is How Your Plastic Bag Ends Up In Massive Ocean Garbage Patches.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/22/plastic-ocean-garbage_n_5191294.html.

Rinkesh. “20 Astonishing Facts About Littering.” Conserve Energy Future, 3 Jan. 2017, http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/various-littering-facts.php.

Lake, Rebecca. “23 Littering Statistics That Will Blow Your Mind.” CreditDonkey, 3 Mar. 2015, http://www.creditdonkey.com/littering-statistics.html.

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