My name is Miles Cruice-Barnett. My stream’s English class at Science Leadership Academy is doing a “You and the World” project. What is a you and the world project? What we do is pick an issue in the world, or nation, or community, or wherever, and we do research on it. We then post a few blogs about it and go out and try to help fix the issue. My issue is about littering in public places and how it can effect the environment.
First, let me start off by saying, we have all seen litter. If you live in the city you see it every day. But, did you know that because of this litter, the litter that is just a part of every day life, there is an island of trash two times the size of Texas floating in the Pacific ocean? Just think about that. You know how big your city is? Now think of your state. Now Texas. Now think of two of Texas side by side. Now imagine that is made of trash. That is a lot of trash, and the sea life is dying because of it. I had heard of this “trash island” before but I found an article on the New York Times website that I found really interesting and informative. You can check that out here.
Another, more obvious, reason that littering is bad, is that it just looks gross. The trash can contain diseases as well, that can be passed between animas that eat it. If trash is sitting in water, the water becomes contaminated, and when the water evaporates whatever was in the trash in now in the air.
The biggest source of litter is cigarette butts. Though small they can be very dangerous. The butts contain harmful chemicals, including arsenic, that can contaminate water and soil. The problem is that there are so many of them lying on the ground. For example: I was waiting for the bus the other day and saw just a few cigarette butts, but as I looked more, I counted at least 20 of them within 5 feet of me. So now cigarettes can harm us even if we don’t smoke.
The U.S. spends 11.5 billion dollars on litter clean up every year (Source). You can help by doing these few things. You can STOP LITTERING. You could also volunteer for programs like Keep America Beautiful’s annual Great American Cleanup, or just volunteer at you local park to do a park cleanup. Or even if your walking down the street and see some litter, pick it up and throw it away, every bit helps.
In doing my research I also found this very interesting website that had tons of information, some of which included a pie chart on the most common litter. I did not realize until later, when I came across the same organization’s clean up project for a different year, that this information was for Australia. It made me realize that littering is not just a problem in America, but around the world, and that other countries have similar organizations that have the same mission. You can check out that website here, and the pdf for their annual “Rubbish Report” here.