10 REASONS TO CARE ABOUT LITTER
1. WE'RE POISONING THE PLANET. We are responsible for toxins in our lakes, rivers and the ocean.
Have you seen these unbelievable pictures? Just google Pacific Garbage Patch or Pacific Gyre. It's a floating island of plastic about two times the state of Texas that keeps swirling around with the ocean currents getting larger and larger as it collects more plastic litter. Another gyre has been discovered off the North American East Coast roughly between Cuba and Virginia. It is called the Atlantic Garbage Patch.
carcasses? They died because they mistook plastic for food, ate it and fed it to their young. Or the creatures that get tangled up in fishing line or six pack rings. Here's a video of a pelican at my beach weighted down by beach litter. I first spotted it having trouble flying. It paddled in to shore and as it exits the water you can see debris hanging from it.
3. DIRECT COST to Taxpayers. Some litter facts: In the U.S. an estimated $11.5 billion each year is spent on litter cleanup, according to Keep America Beautiful.
I can think of a lot better ways to spend this money. I bet you can too.
4. INDIRECT COST: Lower property values; loss of commerce and in vacation spots, tourist dollars.
5. WORLD PEACE: Well, eventually. Apparently, a litter-free environment promotes inclusiveness and diversity. According to a recently published article in the journal Science, dirty, disorderly environments contribute to stereotyping and discrimination. For more info and link to article: http://www.museumoflitter.org/2011/04/if-wed-just-pick-up-litter-wed-all-get-along.html
6. PERSONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH: In my town, a local resident had to have his toe amputed after stepping on broken glass at the beach.
This glass was picked up from the shore seconds after a barefoot runner passed by. I've also picked up fishhooks, knives and corkscrews. There's also the issue of ecoli and other bacteria. In addition to dirty diapers, I've found the following on my beach: used condoms, tampon inserters and bandaides. Not to mention goat heads and dead chickens (but, hey, this IS South Florida!).
7. IT's ILLEGAL. Why don't we enforce littering laws? We should be litter-free because it's the right thing to do, not because it's illegal, but since it is illegal, why don't we enforce the law? Let people know: "If you want to litter: fine." Putting your hand in someones pocket is a great way to make them pay attention while getting much needed revenue.
8. IT CAUSES ACCIDENTS. It's easy for a child, the elderly or someone with poor eyesight to trip or stumble over litter. I once stepped down off a curb onto a glass bottle that was almost invisible, tucked against the curb. It caught me completely by surprise. I was thrown off balance as my foot unexpectedly came out from under me as the glass rolled forward. I don't normally wear sneakers but was glad I had them on that day because it made me more sure-footed and able to quickly regain my balance. Litter also causes numerous traffic accidents, even fatalities, as drivers swerve to avoid litter on the highway.
9. IT CAUSES FIRES. In dry conditions a smouldering cigarette butt can create a fire that kills humans, wild animals and destroys forests and fields. The senseless act of littering can cause wildfires that roar through neighborhoods resulting in people losing their homes, their families, their pets and costing millions of dollars in medical care and rebulding. In 1999 thirty-nine people died in the Mont Blanc tunnel (between France and Italy) as a result of a pitched butt.
10. IT's EASILY SOLVABLE. There are lots of problems on the planet, but this is one we CAN do something about. IF we really want to, we could elimate litter in a year.
If you think a piece of litter here or there is no big deal, too small to matter, or our efforts will not make a difference: Consider the turtle, Mae West, who was deformed by a plastic milk jug ring.
Every litter bit hurts. Every little bit helps. Pitch in. Together, we can eliminate litter.