Table Of Contents

Environmental Effects Of Littering

If you look at metropolitan cities, you will notice the menace brought about by littering. You will find all types of litter, from food packaging, soft drink cans, water bottles, polythene bags, pamphlets, cigarette butts, tissue, papers, etc., covering walkways, lanes, parking lots, roads, and highways. People tend to litter where a mess already exists.

The Growing Danger Of Trash

It is estimated that about 1.9 billion tons of trash land in the ocean every year. The picture drawn here is people do not use litter bins. They end up throwing litter anywhere. As much as it is unappealing to the eye, waste can negatively affect the environment.

These effects can be felt for an extended period. For instance, it takes a million years for containers made from Styrofoam to rot, a disposable nappy takes over 500 years, a cigarette over ten years, and peels from oranges or bananas take over a month.

Apart from affecting the environment, waste can harm people's well-being, safety, and welfare. The hazardous effect of garbage includes trapping or harming creatures, killing marine life through choking (directly) or affecting water quality (indirectly). Waste also attracts bugs and rats.

These rats and bugs carry germs and can spread different diseases that affect both humans and animals. Moreover, a driver on the road might swerve to avoid rubbish and cause an accident. Children on the playing ground can fall on debris with sharp objects injuring themselves. Litter is also harmful to plants, vegetation, and natural areas.

What Causes Littering Behaviour?

• Laziness

• Lack of ownership or pride in the environment

• Thinking someone else will pick after you

• Litter bin position, number, and presence

• Lack of strict punishments

• Low prosecution

• Not being aware of the effect of littering on the environment

A good number of us are guilty of littering in one way or another. It is something we pick up from others and, without knowledge, impart in our children.

Resolving The Litter Nuisance

Littering in Australia is driven by a disregard for legislation, its execution, obliviousness, and egotism in our approach - thinking that it is someone else’s job to pick after you. Cleaning up and collecting rubbish that people have disposed of without thinking has led to spending a large amount of money on clean-up activities. This exercise takes up a lot of time and is expensive.

To resolve the litter nuisance, the first thing is to educate people on the importance of proper waste disposal. If people know the effects of littering, they will try their best not to litter and put waste where it should be placed. They will educate others and show them how to dispose of waste correctly.

Involving the community during clean-ups inspires everyone to be proud of their surroundings and work towards keeping it clean. If waste is seen anywhere, it should be removed immediately to prevent it from becoming an uncontrollable dumpsite. We have to remove garbage in an 'eco-friendly manner.'

If the community is kept clean, people would come in and want to do business there or even attract tourists. If you have a litter, look for the nearest bin to throw it into.

Effects Of Littering On People

Burdensome and Expensive

Littering causes a lot of problems for people. Someone else will have to be employed to clean the garbage that an irresponsible person threw unconsciously. Or else the sight becomes a blot on the landscape.

To resolve this issue, people need to be employed to clean this mess, and the money to pay these workers comes from taxes. So, whether you littered or not, you will have to pay for the clean-up.


Garbage harbors microorganisms that are spread to different places. The microorganisms decay and build a breeding place for bacteria. These microorganisms are exposed to the general population resulting in disease epidemics, for instance, cholera and typhoid, if this garbage comes into contact with the source of water or is brought to the house by pets and birds. These diseases can be fatal. Also, poor hygiene can be distressing to a whole town.

Watercourse Blockage

Some people dump plastic waste inappropriately, and the litter trails the water route after a heavy downpour. It usually ends up in pipelines and sewer gutters. Plastic litter can cause blockage of water streams.

After some time, the garbage will block water sieves. This will eventually block drainage channels or waterways, causing pipes to burst. This bursting of pipes causes major issues. It can cause flooding or raw sewage to flow freely, leading to cholera, malaria, or typhoid outbreaks.

Rodents and Bugs

Garbage is a good breeding place for rodents and bugs. These pests carry germs, and rats and mice attract other animals, such as snakes that are dangerous.

Combined Littering

As soon as someone starts littering at a particular place, other people will start throwing their rubbish at the same spot if it is not removed immediately. So, it is safe to say trash breeds trash. After some time, the heap will grow bigger, requiring a lot of effort and money to clean it up.

Plastic Menace

If you go to any landfill, you will find plastic waste like polythene bags, containers, and glasses. These items do not rot naturally and are the cause of the high levels of littering we are experiencing. They block drainage channels, sewers, highways, watercourses, and fields.

Unintentional Injury

Young children can get injured if they fall into a heap of litter that has sharp objects. Also, while trying to avoid coming into contact with litter, a driver may swerve their car and hit something else. Hazardous chemicals, harmful to humans and animals, can also be found in the litter.

Effects Of Littering On Animals


Garbage presents both harmful recyclable and non-recyclable waste into our environment. If animals wander around and come to landfills, they will most likely feed on non-recyclable materials. If this same waste finds its way to a waterway, animals will be affected if they drink the water.

This can lead to contamination of the animals by the toxins in the wastes. Birds and domesticated animals are in greater danger if they consume food from the garbage. This can lead to death or poor well-being of the animals because of contamination or blockage of their digestive tract. Waste is a danger to everyone and everything in our environment.

Bodily Injury and Entrapment

Things like a beer can, plastic bottles, nets, and ropes that do not decay usually entrap animals once they are entangled, causing them injuries as they try to free themselves. In extreme cases, they might go around the animal's neck and cause death by strangling or suffocation. Sharp objects such as broken glasses that people have discarded can cut animals.

Furthermore, if such litter gets into water bodies, animals will disentangle themselves, leading to drowning or asphyxiation. For animals that live underwater, the presence of plastics obstructs their movement. This can interfere with many aspects of a marine animal’s life, including breeding and feeding.

Indigestible Litter

Litter that animals cannot digest can be harmful if eaten. Anything that animals cannot digest will block the digestive system causing pain and possibly death.

Disease Carriers

Similar to people, litter breeds a lot of pests and rodents. Mosquitos breed in stagnant water, which is common near a dumpsite. This can spread diseases to animals.

Plastic Waste

Plastic waste that drifts into the sea may affect sea animals such as turtles or dolphins when they eat the plastic. They affect animals by draining their nutrients and clogging their guts and internal organs. Plastic waste cannot be digested, which ultimately causes death. Piece of plastic can also cause bodily harm to aquatic life, including death.

Effects Of Littering On The Environment

Irritation and Unsightliness

Litter is a blot on the landscape. A littered space is very irritating and nasty to look at. People will shun doing business or even touring areas where litter is everywhere.

Large-Scale Contamination

Soil becomes contaminated when it gets into contact with consumer waste, gasoline, and dirty water. The ground consumes the pollutants that waste produces. This affects vegetation and crops. You will notice that your plants have stunted growth, and crops do not flourish.

If there are animals in the surrounding area, they will eat the vegetation around and worms that dwell in the soil. This will cause sickness in the animals and the people who will eat the vegetation or the animals.

This litter might also find its way to water sources and contaminate it. It will cause plants to cause all the life at the bed of the water to die. If fish ingest this contaminated water, they may experience blood clots or severe health problems that can be fatal. It might also affect any person who eats animals that have drunk the dirty water.

If the garbage is set on fire, it can result in air pollution. The smoke may contain large amounts of poisonous gases that will be released into the atmosphere. The result is potentially lung problems and other medical issues for people and other living things.

Fire Risk

Fire can spread quickly when it catches on waste paper and plastic, two highly flammable materials. They can be ignited easily and can blow out to the surrounding environment. Cigarette butts and flaming matchsticks can also act as catalysts that light such fires.

Littering also poses a risk to the environment as it can facilitate a fire outbreak. Plastics and paper waste tend to be very flammable, which means they can become easy to catch and spread the fire to the rest of the surrounding environment.

Blooming of Algae

At one point, there might be an unexpected burst of algae in a water environment. When natural waste is discarded carelessly and trails to watercourses and other water environments, algae will start blooming. The rotting waste is nutritious food for algae and grows into a huge population.

Any time algae are thriving, you will notice at the top of the water there is a carpet-like cover. The cover is often expansive in large and heavily polluted water bodies. This cover prevents oxygen from diffusing into the water. A number of algae will produce contaminants that are harmful to marine animals and can even lead to death.

Caring For The Environment Starts With You

With the adverse effects discussed in this article, it is clear that everyone must take care of the environment. People should stop assuming that someone else will pick up after them when they have thrown litter away inappropriately.

To safeguard not only your health and the health of animals but marine animals and the environment, we need to take the above steps to ensure that everyone is healthy. Moreover, should you require assistance to sort or remove your waste or waste accumulating in public areas or near habitats, you can reach out to a local skip company to handle the waste for you.