- As we look around our beautiful country we all too often see plastic bottles, cans, glass bottles, polystyrene containers and cups, plastic, paper and a whole lot of other rubbish littering our streets, our parks, alongside our highways, our neighbourhoods, our shopping areas, our rivers and many other places in our environment.
- No waste company is can keep a town or city clean when residents litter and dump illegally randomly. If residents join in in cleaning up their environment and then keep it clean, we win because we have a cleaner, safer and more hygienic city or town.
Does it matter if we litter?
- With so many other important issues such as crime and violent crime, AIDS, child abuse, joblessness should we care about whether we put our litter in the bin (or recycle where possible.) Should we care if South Africa and the environment in which we live are kept clean?
- YES, It does matter and we should care.
- WHY? Litter is both an environmental and a social issue.
- It’s unsightly. It reduces the aesthetic appeal of public places including streets, parks and waterways.
- It costs the community huge sums of money and time to clean up every year.
- It causes blockages of the drainage system and causes flooding, which costs councils millions of rand to repair. This is money that can be better spent on housing and education.
- When it gets into our waterways – rivers, dams and the sea – it becomes devastating to aquatic life, directly (eg. through choking) and indirectly through its impacts on water quality.
- It decreases oxygen levels when it decays in water.
- It kills rivers and as water is such a precious resource, and we have a limited supply, we need to preserve and cherish our rivers and waterways, which are the lifeblood of the environment. They provide homes for wildlife and plants, water supplies for homes, industries and farms, and places of recreation and enjoyment for us all.
- It can be dangerous to people, particularly when it involves items such as broken glass, rust, needles and syringes.
- It can be a fire hazard, for example when lit cigarettes are thrown out.
- It harms birds, for example they may choke on plastic, chewing gum or any other litter that gets stuck in their throats.
- It breeds rats who carry diseases, destroy and eat crops and food, chew electrical and telephone cables.
- It encourages illness.
- It encourages crime as areas that are not taken care of are seen to be unprotected and therefore easier crime targets.
- It manifests in a culture of disrespect for others and areas that are shared by others.
- It diminishes the pride people have in their environment.
- It creates a culture of lack of caring.
- It costs the council a lot more money to clean up the litter than it costs them to empty bins.
Why do people litter?
- They lack self respect – they don’t care about themselves and therefore don’t think that it’s important that they live in a clean environment.
- They lack respect for others – they don’t care how their actions and behaviour impacts on others, and therefore don’t think about how their littering effects others.
- Lack of respect for the environment – they don’t care what the impact of their littering has on the environment in which they live.
- They don’t want to take responsibility for cleaning up after themselves and taking care of their environment.
- They are lazy – it’s easier to leave their rubbish on the ground, or throw it on the floor than find a bin.
- They think it’s someone’s job or they think they are creating work. (This is not correct, as so much litter is not collected and it causes environmental problems.)
- They think it’s acceptable in certain places to leave their litter. For example littering at places like cinema complexes, sports grounds, parks and theatres may incorrectly be seen as acceptable sites as someone is paid to clean up.
- And sometimes – they just don’t know better.
Why put your litter in the bin?
- Litter left on the ground is unsightly.
- Also the wind picks up litter left on the ground and blows it around.
- It blows it into other areas. It blows it into areas that people care about.
- It makes the environment around us look ugly and uncared for.
- It gets into our waterways and negatively affects the quality of our water and kills the fish. It also breeds illnesses, breeds rats, effects birds and other animals, and causes many other problems in our environment.
- Areas filled with litter look like they are unattended to. Very often this attracts criminals because unattended areas are easier targets.
- Litter put into bins can be collected more efficiently by the garbage collectors – whether municipal garbage collectors or those that empty the bins at parks, sports fields, shopping centre or anywhere else.
And what if there’s no bin?
- Take your litter with you. Then put it in the bin at home or when you find a bin.
What can we do to make a difference?
- Look around your living space – neighbourhood, in your streets, at your school – in the classroom and outside.
- Look in public places -your parks, playing fields, shopping areas, streets, alongside highways.
- Notice the amount and type of litter – plastic bottles, cans, packets, chip packets, sweets wrappers, ice-cream wrappers, papers, other plastic and a lot more.
- Notice if the litter is ever collected.
- Notice if there is more or less litter at any given time – like a picnic or a sports event, or music concert.
- Notice if there is more litter on weekends or during the week.
- Put your litter in the rubbish bin and not on the ground.
- Whether it’s in the classroom, at home, the shops, the sports field, the Zoo, or anywhere else you may be.
- Whether it’s your ice-cream paper and stick or your chewing gum wrappers, or your cold drink can or plastic bottle or food container or wrapping or paper or anything else you are throwing away.
- Pick up litter at home or at school and put it in the bin.
- Pick up your litter after any event, outing or picnic and put it in the bin – if there is no bin available, take it with you and put it in your bin at home.
- Keep a plastic bag handy – if you are out & about – pick up a few pieces of litter and put into the closest bin. Although it’s not nice to pick up litter it will make you think twice about dropping your own litter.
- Don’t throw your litter thrown out of cars:
- It’s dangerous if it hits the car behind or next to you
- Or if it hits a pedestrian who is walking along the roadside
- And it makes an unsightly mess on the roadside
- Don’t throw your litter thrown out of cars:
- Arrange a community, neighbourhood or school clean- up.
- Respect your clean environment.
- Encourage others to do the same.
- Educate others on why not to litter.
- If you see someone littering, tell them to put their litter in the bin.
- Discuss with your families why one shouldn’t litte.
- Discuss with your schools, religious or community halls why there need to be enough bins in the above areas.
- If you can’t get bins from the council buy them.
- Respect yourself and the space you live in and the space you share with millions of other people.
- Respect others and the country you share with them.
- Respect the environment. It’s for everyone to share.