Litter is not only just unsightly, but it can also cause serious health and environment issues. Many everyday products that are thrown away as litter take years, or even decades, to degrade. As a response to the problem of littering, many jurisdictions throughout the world have enacted littering laws. Both civil and criminal penalties can result in violators of littering laws.
In history, litter has been responsible for causing or contributing to, many epidemics, including the bubonic plague which killed millions during the 14th century in Europe. Rodents carrying the plague-infected fleas were drawn to the food thrown out as litter along city streets, which contributed to the spread of the plaque.
At present also, the same concerns still exist, as well as others, such as chemicals that are carelessly thrown out as litter that can find their way into human water supplies. There are many ways to say ‘garbage’. We should ask ourselves every day why the word ‘garbage’ even exists today. About 250 years ago during the Edo period in Japan, people used to reuse or recycle things until they wore out.
The slogan back then was, ‘Don’t waste!’ In most of the developed countries, this garbage is channelized – through proper town planning-to generate usable energy sources; generally, we call it a renewable energy resource. The current situation is totally different compared to those days. Everywhere we look, we see plastic bags, crumpled paper, PET bottles, flyers, and mostly squashed cigarette butts rolling around like tumbleweeds in the desert.
If you look at the countries like New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, North Korea, etc; you won’t find any litter anywhere. It seems like the people there don’t litter. Instead, they try to find trash cans and therefore make their country a clean place to live.
When we go into the deep root cause of cleanliness, the stiff laws against littering make them abide by the rules and regulations along with more awareness & implementation about cleanliness. For example, in Ireland, if you are caught littering, you’ll be fined the equivalent of 20,000 yen on the spot. In Singapore and the U.S., there are many laws and penalties concerning littering. South Koreans spend money to discard trash while North Koreans earn money by collecting it – and imported trash is at a premium. In fact, all North Korean students are rag-and-bone men.
I think if we keep throwing away garbage wherever we like, we will end up living in the mess we have created. So ask yourselves, “Do I want to live on Mt. Garbage?” I believe in mankind’s ability to overcome challenges when determined to do so. Challenges can be overcome with commitment and the desire to do so in a distinct manner. This menace could be solved with three important initiatives; first of all, if you have the proper education and teach people about littering and the need to clean our streets, rivers, and beaches, you will know how to deal with this problem.
Presently, we are being taught in school about –reuse, reduce and recycle. However, it requires a wider advertising campaign to help convince people not to litter. Secondly, we need to place more garbage cans in our neighborhoods, so people will have a place to put trash. Lastly, we need stricter penalties – specifically in developing and third world countries – for littering because it is difficult to change people’s bad habits. If people know they’ll be fined for littering, they will think twice about it.
The Indian government has already implemented the cleanliness initiative throughout India; called ‘Swachh Bharat.’ This will bring more awareness among Indians towards their responsibilities to keep the environment clean and enhance the public health care system.
There are ways that you can make litter laws work in your city. You can organize a group of people at a local level to have a litter pick-up day, or you can adopt different areas to patrol for litter. Whenever a group of people shows they care about this issue, it catches on and attracts even more volunteers.
Another indirect effect of picking up litter is that when people are on a street or in a park that is clean, they will be less likely to carelessly discard their trash. If the situation doesn’t improve with the above initiatives, I have a simple solution to all this. First, you catch the offenders using CCTV cameras. Then, instead of a fine, the punishment is to pick up the trash and clean up the place. And this exercise should be taped and displayed prominently, in the form of photographs or video, so that future offenders are deterred.
It is amazing how the shame and embarrassment of being seen like this work as a deterrent. That is why the punishment for many petty crimes in the U.S. is so many hours of community service, including removing trash thrown on the highway. In fact, the culture of cleanliness can be and should be incorporated in young students during schooling. For example, in South Korea, students are made to clean the school toilets which might help in removing the stigma associated with the act of ‘cleaning up.’
Waste to Energy, also widely recognized by its acronym WtE is the generation of energy in the form of heat or electricity from waste or garbage. Energy from waste offers recovery of energy by conversion of non-recyclable materials through various processes including thermal and non-thermal technologies.
The energy that is produced in the form of electricity, heat, or fuel using combustion, pluralization, gasification, or anaerobic digestion is clean and renewable energy, with reduced carbon emissions and minimal environmental impact than any other form of energy.