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The Major Types of Litter (And What You Can Do About It)

The Major Types of Litter (And What You Can Do About It)

What are you doing to protect the environment?

While environmental change can feel overwhelming, there are many things you can do at a grass-roots level to make a positive change.

With environmental health becoming a major topic of discussion around the globe, more and more people want to find out what they can do to influence change. This is definitely a crucial question to raise too.

Each passing day sees improvements being made in different areas, yet how does the ordinary person help? Or, on the flip-side, what are we all doing that may be negatively affecting the environment?

Since the 1960s, litter has increased by a staggering 500%. And it's causing major issues.

In addition to litter being unpleasant to look at, it is also responsible for the death of millions of birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles each year. This is because they consume plastic or get trapped in it.

So, if you’re ready to make a positive change, let's delve into some of the most common types of litter - and a few of the simple 'zero waste' solutions.

The Main Types of Litter

Cigarette butts account for half of the litter in Australia making it the most littered item. This has been the case since 1997 when they were first counted.

Apart from butts, other common types of litter include:

  • drink containers
  • paper (all kinds of paper and cardboard, packages for takeaway food)
  • organic materials (food and animal excrements)
  • chewing gum

Domestic waste, green waste, furniture, electronic waste, renovation and demolition litter also cause significant litter problems.

All these types of domestic waste become extra visible when you’re moving houses, according to the residential movers at Uplift Removals. “Waste management should be among the things you consider when you plan your move. It can be overwhelming, but with some planning and sorting you can ensure that your rubbish is properly and responsibly disposed of before you leave. If it’s too overwhelming, do consider enlisting professionals.”

New rubbish sources are becoming more apparent with each passing year. Evolving consumer behaviour, for example: preference for takeaway meals and increased junk mail, all have an impact on the amount of litter being created in your local area.

These can be countered by positive changes like green packaging, but you can play your part too.

Our ways of life have also changed. We have busier schedules, indulge more in snacks, increased grazing, and consume more fast foods.

All these factors lead to rubbish in more places and more frequently.

The Effects Of Litter

✘ Litter is expensive. For example, every year in Queensland, an amount exceeding $20 million is spent cleaning up litter.

✘ Litter is a health hazard. Waste draws in disease-carrying critters and acts as a breeding ground for bacteria. Litter such as broken glass and syringes are also a risk to health in public areas.

✘ Litter compromises water channels. Organic waste including animal excrement, leaves and grass contaminate water channels and can also lead to clogging of drainage systems and flooding.

✘ Litter increases the risk of fire outbreaks. The build-up of rubbish and improperly disposing of cigarette butts are potential fire risks.

✘ Litter endangers wildlife. Plastic litter tends to cause animals to choke or suffocate. Improperly disposed of containers usually trap small mammals. Waste and litter in the streets can make its way through stormwater systems to our creeks, rivers, and oceans, where it is a great threat to wildlife.

✘ Litter is unattractive. Litter degrades the appearance of our communities, and in particular tourist attraction sites.

What Can The Average Person Do?

#1 - Put simply - ensure that your rubbish is placed securely.

Papers, small cans and containers, and other light-weight waste materials are usually easily carried by the wind and scattered far from the proper waste and recycling repositories. Engage in local events and ensure that the trash is secure and won't spread to unwanted areas.

That said, there are also waste that the average person should not simply toss in a bin.

According to the household waste experts at Any Rubbish, some types of junk need to be dropped off at allocated pickup points for proper disposal. “Consult your local city office for more information on responsible rubbish disposal. Batteries, for example, can’t just be tossed in a landfill because of their toxic risks. Similarly, household chemicals like bleach and pesticide can be harmful to plants and animals. These types of trash need to be dropped off at recycling centres.”

#2 - Keep a trash bag in your car.

The wind can easily blow away litter from your car through an open window or door. Therefore, it is important to always have a bag in your car and store your trash in the bag and properly dispose of it later. In addition to maintaining a clean and organised car, doing so will also help to keep the streets clean. Roadside littering is often an inconvenience to both drivers and local communities and it is also illegal. This problem can be easily resolved by people keeping trash bags in their vehicles for trash purposes. 

#3 - Make proper use of recycle bins.

A great way to save natural resources, landfill space, energy, and clean water and air is to recycle materials instead of littering. This goes a long way in helping your local environment and environment.

Find out more about responsible waste management with Biotuff’s Eco-bins!

#4 - Take part in community cleanup exercises.

The proper disposing of trash around the city is a rewarding and enjoyable experience that also helps to bring together community members in an effort to improve the area for living and visiting. Think about engaging in different community events that promote a healthier environment.

This is a process used by Search It Local HR manager Jacqueline Payne. She explains that “we all have a responsibility to look after the world we live in. In my role I organise bi-weekly clean ups where we take time out of the office and target a local park. More than a way to remove some litter, we’ve found it’s a great team bonding exercise, and has become a real highlight for my team.”

The environment needs our help. So what are you going to do today to make for a cleaner tomorrow?

Author Bio: Anna Johnston