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Litter and Wildlife

According to recent surveys the amount of litter in our neighbourhood is a major cause for concern (www.encams.org). Whilst the unsightly aspect created by an area spoilt by litter is reason enough to reduce the amount of waste dropped unnecessarily, there are other potentially more serious problems created by litter.

Many objects present a very real danger to wildlife (www.rspca.org.uk). Some common examples include; plastic bags, wrapping and other containers which can ensnare a variety of animals, glass which can cause serious injuries to humans and animals and aluminium cans which can also trap and injure wildlife. There are many other items which may at first be considered to present little threat to wildlife. People often consider that items like fruit or bread can pose no danger to wildlife but this sort of food litter can indeed present a real danger to the health of animals that are not accustomed to the substances contained within the food.

A further concern relating particularly to food litter in our urban areas is the rise in the urban rat population. A recent survey found that the rat population in Great Britain had increased by 24% between 1998-200 and now stands at around 60 million. This rise has been partly attributed to an increase in the amounts of food litter to be found on the streets of our towns.

Litter and the Environment

Another concern with litter is what happens to it once it has been discarded. Manufactured products take a very long time to break down or degrade in the natural environment. Indeed many items such as some plastics and glass last almost indefinitely. The clear implications are that anything that we carelessly throw away now will be in the environment for potentially a long time to come. This is why we should not only dispose of our waste responsibly but also consider whether it can be recycled or re-used so that it doesn’t become waste in the first place.

The amount of litter in our environment spoils the visual appeal of an area and immediately makes an area look at best untidy and at worst dirty and neglected. There is also a perception by some that if an area already contains litter then there is little point in disposing of ones own litter more responsibly. In effect a little litter creates a lot more!

The final thought on this topic is a simple one; all the litter that we see in our environment is there because of somebody’s carelessness, laziness or irresponsible attitude. If everybody was prepared to either put their rubbish in a bin or take it home with them there would be no litter anywhere. It really is that simple.