Littering is any kind of trash thrown in small amounts, especially in places where it doesn’t belong. With time, it heaps up. The practice is unlawful because it costs municipalities millions of dalasis annually in cleanup costs. It also portrays a bad picture of an area.
This is Gambia's major problems. The most frequent littered stuff include food packaging, cigarette butts, used plastic bottles, plastic bags, single used cups, broken electrical equipment parts, toys, broken glass, food scraps or green wastes.
Even practices such as leaving items overflowing beside a dust bin, deliberate throwing of items from vehicles, and abandoning items or wrappers by the roadside qualifies as littering. Littering is a dangerous activity and should not be taken lightly because it impacts the environment in multiple ways.
In order to get a better understanding of littering, I will be talking about its causes, problems and possible solutions in this video.
I am Annette, Afrigod team in the Gambia.
As mentioned in the introduction, let's move on to causes of public littering.....
Ignorance and lack of environmental education is a culture of habitual littering. Typically, we have become too lazy and unwilling to throw away trash appropriately. It is common to see people discard trash out of their kitchen windows or balconies probably because they are too lazy to put it in the rightful places. Carelessness has also made people just throw rubbish anywhere without even thinking about it.
Improper environmental education
Many people do not know that their various acts of littering negatively impact the environment. As a result, people continue to throw litter anywhere without thinking of their environmental consequences. Smokers, for example, are unaware of how the aimless throwing of cigarette butt affects the environment. The case is similar for passengers, pedestrians and people who aimlessly throw wrappers or other used items in remote or public areas.
Pollutes the environment
Litter adversely affects the environment. Be it littering along the road, on the streets or by the litter bins, toxic materials or chemicals in the litter can be blown or washed into rivers, forest lands, oceans, lakes and creeks and eventually pollutes the waterways, land, forest areas, soils or aquatic environments.
Cigarette butts, for instance, contain toxic substances like arsenic which can contaminate soil and water. The great pacific garbage patch is another example, which is connected to marine plastic pollution. Litter can also reduce air quality due to the smell and toxic/chemical vapor emanating from the trash.
Okay...! Now we look into the Solutions of Littering
- Litter laws
Talk about laws, the Gambia once passed an anti littering law enforcement under the National Environmental Agency (NEA)
This was to Put in place strict litter laws ensures no litter is discarded, thrown or dropped onto private and public places. Such laws work towards prohibiting illegal dumping and littering. The law must also clearly stipulate that dumping is a serious offence, punishable by serving a jail term and fines. Several local authorities globally have considerably addressed the littering problem by instituting legislations punishing perpetrators with fines, imprisonment, and community service. But for whatever reason I think the law died...
2. Anti-litter campaigns
Community programs and groups should be created with the sole aim of running anti-litter campaigns to raise awareness. “Keep the environment tidy” programs and community clean up events can be a lot of fun and are sufficiently valuable in spreading the message. The campaigns can also be incorporated in bulletin boards, social media platforms, and newsletters to spread the message widely.
Campaigns speak a lot and provide relevant knowledge about the environmental costs of littering, eventually addressing some of the problems. In supporting this initiative, more than half of smokers say that if they are aware of how their behavior impacts the environment, they would strive to correct it.
3. Stop Littering Signs
Putting up signs is a very creative way of putting a stop to littering. The signs should be placed in high littered areas and those that are prone to littering such as the streets near public transport stations. Routes used on daily basis by pedestrians and commuters also deserve “stop littering signs” to constantly remind people that littering is a bad thing and should thus be avoided. Well we used to have sign boards too but they're no more.
4. Putting up litter bins
Proper measures must be taken by the relevant local authorities to ensure more garbage bins are installed in various areas for effective garbage disposal. Putting up enough garbage bins in town centers, walking routes, public areas, and near bus stops as well as fast-food restaurants offer convenience in the disposal and collection of litter. It also eases the recycling and reuse initiatives as the local authorities and garbage collectors are given easy time in sorting the waste. To avoid additional problems due to overfilling, the bins must be emptied regularly.
PLANT A TREE TODAY.
Facts about the author
Annette Camara is the Team Leader for Afrigod in the Gambia and a radio presenter and producer.
Facts about Afrigod
Afrigod is a creative initiative focuses on creating solutions to key issues affecting communities. Our mission is to create sustainable solutions through art, technology, agriculture and strategic social projects to curb the climate crisis and improve lives and societies across Africa.