Litter is any piece of misplaced solid waste. This can range from small items, such as cigarette butts or candy wrappers, to abandoned automobiles, appliances, and even spacecraft. Most commonly, litter refers to items that are discarded by an individual, but it can include any item that is in an unacceptable location, regardless of the origin.
Problem of littering is so common in all sections of society beyond their economic or social identity.
We can understand the seriousness of this issue that it forced every nation including India to spend a considerable amount of budget to minimise its effects but there is no remarkable progress yet. In this article, we will discuss why this thing happens and how we can avoid littering.
But before going deep let’s have a look at how this bad habit influences ourselves in various aspects:-
Problems born due to littering –
Underlining our negligence about this problem it is necessary to understand that it’s affecting the most important aspects of our life. Litter poses a number of important environmental, social, and aesthetic problems. As an environmental problem, litter is a substantial source of contamination. Misplaced plastics, Styrofoam, paper, glass, and many other commonly used consumer materials accumulate in the environment, posing a number of harmful environmental consequences. The social problems related to litter include safety hazards, fire hazards, human health hazards, and indirect health hazards from bacteria, rats, roaches, and mosquitoes that are attracted to litter. In addition to it, there are aesthetic issues with litter, as there is near-unanimous agreement that litter is unsightly. Indeed, the presence of litter in a residential community decreases property value, and litter in commercial areas reduces sales.
Why littering is so common –
We know that littering is not only a problem but more appropriately it’s a problematic human behaviour. So to answer this question we must refer to factors that determine human behaviour. For instance we can fulfill this need by only a focused macro level observation of our own behaviours.
1. Society :-
Our first observation must be focused on the manners taught by our society about this problem. In case of littering, we usually don’t have any practical directions from our society, we are free to act as we wish for example it’s your personal choice whether you throw your trash anywhere or you wait and search for a dustbin to do the same. We find that in our country people don’t feel any pressure from society against littering so it’s the main factor that normalizes this problem on this scale.
2. Our insensitivity :-
Our carelessness about littering is rooted deep in our insensitive approach to this problem. This is a factor which not only makes us careless but also prevents us from any positive improvement. A most common example of the effect of an insensitive approach can be seen in our behaviour during a journey. If we observe the behaviour of the same person in western countries and in our own, we find in western countries he always is careful about his behaviour and avoids to litter there but in the second situation when he travels in our country he practices littering frankly this duality in his behaviour confirms the role of insensitivity as a strong factor which increases this problem.
3. Lack of infrastructure –
In an important observation related to facilities available on local level we feel a strong need of improvement to avoid this habit which can’t be said in good condition when we look at road side dustbins. In small cities we can see the carelessness of local municipalities which increases the extent of this problem because litter attracts litter and make the people cool with littering. For example suppose we are looking for a dustbin after using a bottle to throw in it and we are unable to find anyone there then we will unwillingly have to throw this in ground or on roadside so lack of infrastructure is also a reason behind littering.
Methods Of Preventing Littering –
Littering needs both simple and strict decisions to get control over it. Simple steps are related to us and our social behaviour whereas the strict decisions need to be taken on by our development authorities and other similar institutions.
3 important multidimensional solutions are discussed below :-
We can bring awareness by making this problem a topic of public debate for which we need to launch some motivating advertisement campaigns against it and also by making it a part of the school syllabus. In addition to this, we can make the people careful by imposing fines on them who are habitual to litter.
2.Planned development and rehabilitation of slum colonies:-
Take two areas of any city, one its posh colony and second its any slum area , you will find that the rate of littering is higher in slum areas than posh colonies.
Now let’s see the differences between the structure of colonies, here we find that on one hand where the posh areas are planned on the other hand we find that the slum areas are unplanned. So to remove this discrepancy we can say that planned development and rehabilitation are important ways to avoid littering.
Rehabilitation of slum areas covers many aspects among them one is uplifting the living standards of the poor section of our society so that they can actively contribute to the clean earth campaign.
3.Increase local facilities:-
We can control the littering by focusing ourselves to increase the necessary facilities like putting dustbins on public places and motivating people to do the same on the front of their main gate. This idea will certainly work because if people see the dustbin they will certainly be interested to use it. In addition to this, we can equip the local municipality with modern equipment and better transport etc.
Lastly, the most important thing to be done by ourselves is to change our habits and decide not to litter outside and also to use the facilities available in our areas to avoid littering.
Let us conclude the discussion with some data reported in a US-based research article available on the internet reported from arbitrary observations of nearly 10,000 randomly selected individuals across 130 diverse public locations across the country. The results show that of all the disposals that took place in these locations, 17% of total disposal took place there in the resulted litter. The littering rate was even higher for the disposal of cigarette butts, at an observed rate of 65%. The findings of the same report show that littering results from both personal and contextual factors and that both are critical in understanding littering behaviour. (Source:researchgate.net)
So it is necessary to introspect our own behaviour to tackle the problem of littering. In addition to this, we can end this discussion with a determination to stand against littering and keep our surroundings clean.