The impact of litter on the environment is well-documented, but litter has a variety of effects on communities ranging from health issues to economic. Most commonly it is an aesthetic issue, but what is less understood is how this aesthetic problem impacts other matters in a community.
As part of its clean up your ‘hood for good campaign, Woodlands Dairy uncovers below, the impact of litter on communities:
Residents’ perception of neighbourhood decline and disorder – Numerous studies have identified litter as a major indicator of neighbourhood decline and disorder. Other indicators include vandalism, abandoned buildings, graffiti, and vacant lots, but litter has the strongest correlation with the perception of a neighbourhood’s decline and disorder .
Increase in crime – As a decline in a neighbourhood’s perception increases, it is more likely that crime will occur and that criminals will be drawn to the area because it appears more likely to tolerate or ignore criminal behaviour.
Cost of litter to the community and local government – The cost of cleaning up litter has an added impact of the economy; although this undocumented in South Africa, it’s easy to understand that money spent on picking up litter and clearing illegal dumping could be spent improving living standards and healthcare.
Harmful to humans and wildlife – Litter’s health impact on humans results from rats and other pests’ attraction to litter and the remnants of food that might be lurking.
And for our wildlife, it’s well-known that small mammals and aquatic life can consume or choke on our litter. But litter reduces water quality by causing a build-up of nutrients and chemicals which can produce algal blooms which deplete oxygen levels meaning the delicate species find it difficult to survive.
Author: Kimberley Clare Nanson
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