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Toxic Wasteland

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Toxic Wasteland Driving down the road, a passenger is exposed to all of the enchanting sights that nature has to offer. Images of trees soaring above the roads, water rushing through the creek, and dingy trash covering the fields, fill the minds of travelers. Human waste has interrupted the beauty of nature. Beer cans, plastic bags, and McDonald’s® wrappers are dispersed throughout the environment. Trash is tucked away deep into the crevices of cities, forests, fields, and oceans. Littering affects not only the view of the beautiful environment, but it also affects animals, water systems, and plant life. The consequences of littering diminish the quality of life for all organisms in the ecosystem, and it must be stopped. Humans tend to be wasteful by nature. Almost everyone has left garbage outside, or thrown something out the window. Believe it or not, biodegradable substances such as orange peels, apple cores, and banana peels are all considered littering. While littering seems commonplace, it is disrespectful to the environment. Animals are injured, water sources are contaminated, and toxins are continually recycled into the ecosystem. State governments have been hard at work trying to find measures to decrease the amount of waste being thrown into our world.
The real question is why do people continue to litter? The Scottish government provides people answers about the common issue of littering. According to the Scottish Falkirk Council, people have come up with many excuses to explain why littering is acceptable for humans. Based on data collected and surveys, various reasons to continue practicing this habit are, “Littering keeps someone in a job, there aren’t enough garbage bins, and one person can’t make a difference” (Litter Facts). When considering human’s opinions, these reasons can bring forth a valuable insight. While the unemployment rate seems to increase over the years, it is necessary to keep people working. If littering was not an issue, the people cleaning up litter and the people fighting to keep the environment free of toxins would be out of work. Often times there are not enough garbage cans around. Finding a garbage can nearby is not the easiest task. When one is found, the garbage can is likely to be tipped over, causing more litter to infiltrate the environment. The effort it takes an individual to find a garbage can and throw away the trash could be saved by throwing the trash on the ground. If it is going to end up on the ground anyways, why not throw the trash directly on the ground? Environmentalists feel that everyone needs to cut back on littering, and their development of wastes. However, if littering in the environment is a world wide issue, one person will not make a difference. It would take everybody working together to change things. Changing human’s behaviors is difficult, and will not cultivate a healthier environment. These excuses are not justifiable when considering the consequences. Littering affects humans, animals, and plants in a negative way. It puts these creatures at risk of contamination. These viewpoints may seem acceptable to those individuals who are litterers; however, individuals that view the environment as a beautiful, valuable phenomenon realize that it needs to be preserved and protected from waste.
Humans may only be on this planet for a limited amount of time. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has information about diseases and disorders that affect a human’s health, estimate that the human life span is 78.7 years (Life Expectancy). Humans are only on the planet for a limited amount of time. However, human beings need to respect the planet they live on and realize that they are responsible for maintaining and preserving the environment. By appreciating the planet that they were placed on and acting responsibly, humans can stop the planet from becoming a toxic wasteland.
The most common types of littering are from households and businesses. Items such as plastic bottles, cigarette butts, and fast food wrappers are among the top contenders for littered items. The Scottish Council services, that provide insight about litter, suggest that the most common places for littering takes place at shopping centers, routes to school (highways and ditches), or parks (Litter Facts). Preventing individuals from tossing wastes out of the window is almost impossible, but measures need to be taken in order to keep the ecosystem in check. Littering is the cause of multiple complications that animals, humans, and the soil suffer with everyday. Soil and dirt cover most of the land. Humans usually tend to avoid dirt because it is unclean and unsanitary. While the Earth is covered in dirt, it does not mean that the planet itself is a “dirty” place. Soil is vital in the environment and always will be. Soil itself is not a dirty element; however when toxins from human wastes are absorbed into the soil, problems may accumulate. Humans cause the Earth to be unsanitary and unclean. The pollutants from harsh chemicals are being absorbed and harming plants and animals. The toxins present in soil can cause plants and crops to die, or never grow again. Many plants may be damaged, but some plants are just assisting the toxins reach new victims. A contributor to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center states, “Plants are capable of taking up toxic chemicals from soil contamination” (Kilgore). The trash that humans do not dispose of properly makes the Earth appear gross and dirty. What most people do not realize is that the nasty appearance translates into polluted plants at the cellular level. Bioaccumulation by official definition is described as, “the accumulation of a harmful substance such as a radioactive element, or an organochlorine in an organism, especially an organism that forms part of the food chain (Bioaccumulation). Melissa Kilgore, advocate for preserving the environment explains, “The toxins in plants can then bioaccumulate through animals eating the plants directly or from consuming another animal that has eaten the plants” (Kilgore). The litter that affects the soil in turn causes harm to living organisms. The Earth’s soil needs protected from harmful wastes because healthy soil creates healthy plants, animals, and humans. Humans are the cause of litter and pollution. Humans impact the environment and other living organisms in mostly negative ways. Even though the blame of littering can be solely placed on humans, they also struggle from the effects of litter in the environment. Health wise, the toxins in soil and waterways can cause serious life diminishing conditions. The bioaccumulation of toxins in soil is suspected to cause various cancers, low sperm counts, immune system problem, learning disabilities, and birth defects (Kilgore). It is a shame to think that human beings are putting their lives and the lives of others at risk, just because they can not stop littering onto the ground. Smoking was seen as a cool trend in the 50’s and 60’s, where as now smoking is not permitted in public places. The government has cracked down on the cigarette industry because of all of the harmful health issues that come a long with smoking. The practice of smoking is not the only part of the cigarette industry that causes serious harm. Cigarette litter is very common, and may be one of the biggest contributors to health problems. While smoking away from an ash tray, it seems socially acceptable to litter parts of the cigarette. Cigarette ends surprisingly can take about 5 to 12 years to fully biodegrade (Litter Facts). The cigarette ends are very costly to clean up, and they also can get into waterways harming animals and humans. Smokers need to be a little more cautious and dispose of cigarette butts via trash cans or ash trays. Human beings are the only reason why litter in our environment has gotten so out of hand. Health is important to the majority of people, but other factors also affect people’s lives. For example, money is surprisingly one of the things that humans stress over the most. Littering in the environment also has consequences that affect the economic side of human’s lives. Miles Barnett, scientist, blogged that in the United States, almost $11.5 billion each year is spent on litter clean up costs (Cruice-Barnett). This number is outrageous! $11.5 billion is spent correcting an issue that should not even be an issue in the first place. If collectively U.S. citizens do not litter for a full year, we could be saving businesses, governments, schools, and other organizations a lump of cash that can be spent in other productive ways. With the presence of litter, the economy and quality of life suffers. Litter takes a toll on property values, and housing prices. The beautiful city streets, or lively parks no longer appear as happy places. Litter can affects people’s psychological feelings towards specific cities or places. What once used to be a clean, sanitary environment is now dirty and possibly crime ridden. Humans can completely reverse the atmosphere of cities based on the amount of trash and litter that is at hand. Human beings cause issues for themselves, but they also create dangers for animals in the environment. Pete the Pelican enjoyed his life flying around and being near the ocean. One day, Pete’s life ended tragically, and human’s took note of nature’s loss. When the people found Pete dead, they found out the cause of his horrifying death. Pete the Pelican died after eating seventeen plastic bags. The pelican was preserved, and now is a sign to inform people about the problems of plastic bags and ocean pollution. Pete is one of many animals that mistakenly eat garbage because it resembles food. Each year, plastic pollution takes the lives of more than 100,000 marine creatures (Planet Ark Plastic Bag Reduction). Wastes that are initially littered on land find ways into the ocean. Marine creatures are in danger because of the trash that consumes their habitats. When animals munch on trash, it can lead them to feel full leading to starvation. The death of starvation is long and painful for the creatures. The items that are ingested not only can not be decomposed but they can also rupture internal organs, also leading to death. An animal may realize that trash is not a good source of food however, plastic debris can still cause animals serious harm. “Plastic debris can cause drowning, suffocation, and strangulation” (Litter in Our Waterways). Organisms can also ingest toxic chemicals that are not as noticeable as physical trash. Pesticides and motor oil are ingested and cause serious harm to the health of creatures that are innocent of the crime of littering. Animals do not deserve to suffer from issues that humans caused. These animals deserve to live in a healthy environment, and littering is stifling their ability to live free of danger.
Preventative steps have been put into place to try and decrease the amount of litter entering the environment. Things that people can do to reverse the effects of littering are picking up trash, avoiding usage of fertilizers or pesticides, and properly disposing of household hazardous wastes. Littering affects all forms of life in very dangerous, life threatening ways. Harming other humans and animals is disrespectful. The act of littering creates so many consequences for others that later have to be exposed to the waste. Organisms need to have an environment that ensures safety from harm due to littering. The trash that is covering the corn fields is not as harmless as people once thought. The act of littering is truly a sign of disrespect for humans, animals, and the environment. People can reverse the harm that has been inflicted on the planet. Preventative steps to stop litter, big or small, make a huge impact on the world!

Works Cited Page
"Bioaccumulation." - Definition from Biology-Online, 6 Nov. 2006. Web. 27 Mar. 2014.
Cruice-Barnett, Miles. "Science Leadership Academy Learn · Create · Lead." Littering and Its Effect on the Environment — Science Leadership Academy. Science Leadership Academy, 29 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Kilgore, Melissa. "Litter and Pollution." Litter and Pollution. Chintimini Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
"Life Expectancy." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. "Litter Facts." Falkirk Council RSS News. Falkirk Council, n.d. Web. 20 Mar. 2014.
"Litter in Our Waterways." Litter in Our Waterways. Healthy Waterways, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
"Planet Ark Plastic Bag Reduction." Effects on Wildlife. Planet Ark, 1 Dec. 2011. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.…...

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