| Story by Meghan McMahon |
This planet of ours is home to some awe-inspiring vistas, scenes beautiful enough to take your breath away. But in almost every corner of the globe affected by human activity, litter often mars these landscapes, ruining an otherwise spectacular view.
Litter is a perpetual problem, and a particularly frustrating one for a simple reason: Litter is, for the most part, preventable. Littering is prohibited, and people know they should not litter. Yet litter remains a pervasive problem practically worldwide.
What is litter? Essentially, it is discarded items that are improperly disposed of — thrown out of a car window, left in a parking lot, or tossed alongside a trail or shoreline. The problem goes deeper, however, because sometimes garbage that was disposed of properly can inadvertently becomes litter, maybe from dropping out of an overfilled garbage can or blowing out of the back of a garbage truck.
No matter where it comes from, litter takes a toll for many reasons. First, it takes away from our enjoyment of the outdoors. Put simply, litter is ugly to look at. Beyond that, though, litter is detrimental to our ecosystems. The natural flora and fauna of a given area are negatively impacted by litter. In some cases, litter can cause devastating or even fatal injuries to wildlife. And finally, litter is expensive. There is a cost associated with controlling and removing litter from public spaces, and those costs add up.