Posted by: terrauniversity | February 19, 2012

Go Green or Die Tryin’

by Symfonee Henderson

Disposing of waste improperly has been a habit that most humans commit subconsciously. Have you ever wondered why that is? How can we as humans change this habit? Why don’t we feel the need to take care of the planet we live on? Should we even care?

Littering is an action that is taken very lightly by people who think of it as no big deal! Most people litter because they’re too lazy to dispose of their trash in a proper disposal unit. Others just don’t care or they are not always aware that they’re littering. (Green Eco Services. 2009) About 75% of Americans admit to littering within the last 5 years. (Green Eco Services. 2009) Littering includes leftover debris from garbage collection, leaving empty fast food containers around, and throwing candy wrappers and cigarette butts out the window of cars. Many smokers are big time litters. Most smokers don’t believe that carelessly discarding of cigarette butts in public has an effect on the environment when littered cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals that leak into the air and water. (No More Trash. 2011.) Air borne toxins can affect humans by creating breathing problems such as irregular coughing, allergies and asthma. Littered trash on roads and major highways can cause fatal accidents due to drivers trying to avoid driving over debris from littered objects. Litter can harm plants and reduce the quality of natural areas.(Green Eco Services. 2009) Farmers have to deal with their animals digesting littered objects that can kill them like metal.(Green Eco Services. 2009.) Dumping of hazardous waste is considered littering as well and the waste can leak into soil and water, causing ground water pollution, reduction of water quality and harm to other animals in the area.(Green Eco Services. 2009) A single quart of motor oil that is disposed of improperly can contaminate up to 2, 000,000 gallons of fresh water.(A Recycling Revolution.2011) Litter can also cause flooding and blockage to draining systems. (Blacktown City Council. 2012.) Due to polluted water it’s not safe for people to consume so people purchase bottled water which creates more pollution due to the plastic bottled produced that needs to be disposed of. And the list goes on when it comes to littering and its causes.

Littering is expensive and illegal. (Green Eco Services. 2009) Penalizing people by fining them for littering can only do so much. People become repeat offenders at times, when they should just change their bad habits for their own sake and earth’s sake. People should be more aware of the environment and understand what needs to be done to help keep our environment in good condition. Not only should people make a habit of disposing of waste properly but they should make recycling a habit too.
Recycling can benefit us and the natural resources on earth in so many ways. Rain forests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute. The amount of wood and paper people throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.(A Recycling Revolution.2011) If every American recycled one-tenth of their newspapers, we would save 25,000,000 trees a year.(A Recycling Revolution.2011) If plastic was recycled, twice as much energy would be saved instead of burning plastic in an incinerator.(A Recycling Revolution.2011.) An aluminum can takes 500 years or longer to decompose but there is no limit to the amount of times aluminum can be recycled. (A Recycling Revolution.2011) Using cloth napkins instead of paper and reusing plastic bags and cardboard boxes instead of throwing them away reduces the demand of some materials. (No More Trash. 2011) There are so many more ways to recycle things.

Making the effort to dispose of waste properly and taking the time to separate recyclable items from other trash into a recycle bin is the start to saving everyone on earth. It also lessens the measure of harm on the environment from production of new materials, use of natural resources and overcrowded landfills. Think green to make our world a better place. If we don’t take care of our planet who will?

For educators: You may want to discuss the benefits of a litter-free environment and promote a
litter-free environment by practicing recycling. (For example, create art with recycled items and conduct a recycle collection system.)

Blacktown City Council. Littering Information. 2012.
Green Eco Services. Littering Facts and Statistics. Cathy. March 2009.
No More Trash. Litter Facts and Research. 2011.
A Recycling Revolution. Recycling Facts. 2011.

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