How Does Littering Affect the Environment?


Zachary Ruckle, opinion

Every time someone litters, more and more trash gets left on the ground. As litter decays, unnatural chemicals are released into the environment and can cause pollution. An article titled “How Does Littering Affect the Environment?” on the Texas Disposal Systems’ website states, “Researchers estimate that more than 40% of the world’s litter is burned in the open air, which can release toxic emissions. These emissions can cause respiratory issues, other health problems, and even be a starting base for acid rain.” Pollution in the air will start to eat away at the Ozone layer, which keeps out all the gamma rays, X-rays, and so on. Without this protection from harmful radiation, people will begin getting cancer more often from too much exposure. 

Littering doesn’t only create pollution in the atmosphere. The chemicals released as litter decays can also seep into soil and water. Pollution from the soil and water, along with pollution from the air, impacts the growth of crops and plants. The fewer crops there are, the less food there is to harvest, and the fewer plants there are, the less oxygen there is produced into the atmosphere. Plants dying can also lead to a disruption in the food chain, as herbivores will find less and less food. They will start dying due to a lack of nutrition, and the carnivores that eat these animals will find themselves with less and less food as well. Animals can also find litter on the ground and mistake it for food, which could kill them. Because our main food source comes from plants and animals, this of course, affects our ability to have food as well. Not only does littering affect our food, but our water as well. As garbage gets into our main water sources, it causes the water to be polluted and toxic for us to drink. 

We could stop all this from happening if we pick up after ourselves, recycle plastic bottles, throw away garbage, and find better ways to live without pollution. When we take care of this planet, we do not have to worry about the chemicals and toxins in the air we breathe or that animals might mistake litter for food. It is our responsibility to keep the world clean, and some ways we can do this is by recycling more, using more disposable products, and switching to solar panels for electricity. 



Littering facts: How littering really affects the environment: TDS. Texas Disposal Systems. (2022, August 3). Retrieved October 10, 2022, from,can%20also%20pollute%20the%20air