You Are One of the Most Honorable People in the World If You Pick Up Litter

You Are One of the Most Honorable People in the World If You Pick Up Litter

I once had an elderly lady take a picture of me and seek my permission to post it on Instagram as I picked up litter on the beach. I’d been appalled by the horrifyingly dirty state of a normally beautiful place and I had to do something about it. She was so impressed that after getting her picture – which I was indifferent about – she joined me. We picked up trash covering almost the entire beach and till today, we are still great friends. Litter-picking brought us together.

On another occasion, I saw a group of kids laughing at a teenage girl as she cleaned up a badly-littered section of the park. This bold girl didn’t care. She was hurriedly packing up pieces of broken bottles from a drunken party. Little children would often run through that spot while playing and could get seriously hurt. It didn’t matter to her that she was being called “Mother Theresa”, a compliment if you ask me. She happily finished her service and went about her business.

If you are one of the “weirdos” who pick up litter while others applaud, laugh, or stare nonchalantly, then you are a truly honorable person. It’s difficult to imagine why people find it so hard to dispose of trash properly. Why damage the environment and create unsightly scenes all over the place? Why should people have to go to the beach a day before an event to clean it up because it would most certainly be trashed and messed up? 

Littering creates an endless list of unnecessary and avoidable issues. A few are discussed below:

In a world where 8.3 billion tons of plastic have been produced in the past decade and only 9% get recycled, we are bound to be swimming in excess litter across the globe. With 270,000 tons of plastic debris sitting in the world’s oceans and 4 to 23 times that figure on land, we have a lot of work to do to save our planet from further degeneration. [1]

However, litterers are not making our job any easier. We owe it to ourselves and others to dispose of trash properly, but a lot of people simply do not care that much. 

The United States spends about $11.5 billion of taxpayers’ money every year on cleaning up litter, money that could have been funneled into feeding, housing, or health care. [2] While littering creates employment because the government employs people to clean up the streets, these people can be channeled into other industries and sectors if the littering endemic becomes non-existent.

The numbers will always vary, it is estimated that over 1 million marine animals are killed each year by plastic debris in seas and oceans. [3] Hundreds of thousands are killed on land by the same problem. Birds, rodents, fish, turtles, and seals cannot tell the difference between edible pieces and dangerous litter. They ingest everything and would occasionally wind up dead from respiratory or digestive issues. These animals may also be suffocated, entangled, or cut up by plastic items and discarded gear. The plastic infestation of lands and seas is one of the major reasons why several animal species are declining in population. 

Aside from causing an eyesore to humans, litter severely degrades the environment. It attracts disease-carrying rodents and would simply make a place inhabitable. It also attracts dangerous wild animals such as bears, coyotes, and raccoons to urban areas.

Litter creates a chain effect and humans often tag along subconsciously. If you walk into a town or city and everywhere is miserably littered, you’re more likely to join the culture and become a litterer than dare to be different. 

Picking up litter makes you a superhero

You don’t need a cape or some fancy powers to join the hero league. 

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone endeavors to dispose of trash properly. However, since we are a long shot away from this reality, the decent people have to adapt.

No one should ever have to clean up after irresponsible citizens, but selflessly devoting your time and energy to making the environment clean and aesthetic is an amazing service to humanity.

Defying the littering culture must start from the grassroots. Children need to be taught at home and school how important it is to always dispose of trash properly. Also, they need to see the adults they look up to leading by example. You can’t tell a child not to litter while they watch you relentlessly disposing of trash indiscriminately.

You can join local clean-ups organizations, groups, or meet-ups to enjoy communal energy while cleaning up. 

People may call you a weirdo, but deep down, you know who you truly are – a selfless hero. Keep it up.

References

  1. “Plastic in the ocean statistics 2020.” Condor Ferries. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  2. Litter Costs the U.S. $11.5B Annually.” Earth 911. Jennifer Giacoppo. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
  3. “Information About Sea Turtles: Threats from Marine Debris.” Conserve Turtles. Retrieved September 4, 2020.
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