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The Problem of Littering

By: Jeff Rosbrog


Go outside, look around, and what do you see? Food wrappers, paper, cigarette butts, and all sorts of litter. Next to nature, trash is the next common thing to see outside, a frequent sight that needs to end.




















(A food wrapper and a paper towel on a lawn)


Knowing that most of the trash people produce is non-biodegradable because plastics, glass and metal are materials most commonly used, most litter will not dissolve into the ground, but instead stay there and pile up as more litter is discarded. The negative effects of pollutants are abundant; some of which include: Animals (including pets) ingesting the trash causing sickness or injury, rain or water partially dissolving the trash so that the partially dissolved material becomes runoff, a substance which pollutes our bodies of water and soil, and the degradation of a location since the litter creates a bad look on a place.


(A food wrapper on the side of the road)


Along with the negative effects that litter has on the environment and town, it is also important to note that in all fifty states of the U.S. littering is a criminal offense. The official website of the National Conference of State Legislatures asserts that in Connecticut, the punishment for littering is a “Fine of up to $199. If littering on public land, there is a surcharge equal to 50 percent of the fine”. Even though littering is a federal crime, people commit it without care because actions like dropping a wrapper onto the floor from the candy bar they are eating on their way home from school or work is easy. This presents the question: What could be done, then, to limit the amount of littering?


The first thing people can do is something to strive for everyday: not throwing trash on the floor, but instead finding a trash or recycling bin to dispose of our garbage, or just carrying it with us until we can properly dispose of it. To better help the future for this problem, we can, as citizens of a town, bring up the topic of adding more trash and recycling bins in certain areas. This can be done at town hall meetings, or by calling up the town hall and discussing a way to get help towards this goal. In order to eliminate the litter that is already outside, we can attend trash cleanups, help organize them, or simply dispose of trash in a safe manner (e.g. gloves, bags, grabbing stick, not dealing with hazardous material such as glass, etc.). 


The act of littering may never have an end, just like any other crime, but this does not mean that there is no reducing it. With change, the problem of littering can indeed be minimized, and if we all play our part in not littering, it will.

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