The frequent sight of abandoned litter on freeways, roads, and at mall areas and beaches is unappealing and worrying. But what’s even more disturbing is that at our own school and parks, I have noticed the endless food-service lunches and red-and-white wrappers that are carelessly left around.
As I was walking around our school one day, not only did I see scattered napkins and forks by campus benches, but I also saw four Izze and gatorade bottles, some macaroni containers, and a plastic container with half-eaten salad. It became clearer to me that some fellow students were really not thinking about the remnants of their lunches, and how easily they could have placed them in the trash bins just a few feet away.
It’s an unfair burden for janitors to have to do more work than they have to, and to pick up trash after high school—not elementary school— students. The administration shouldn’t have to step in with warnings each time students feel like leaving trash under the benches either.
The effects of litter on the environment are startling. According to the Whales and Dolphins Conservation website, an estimated one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles around the world die each year as they become trapped in plastic or eat it. The death of animals is another unavoidable reason for us all to refrain from randomly dispelling trash, as it ends up in the storm drains and threatens innocuous animals who are just like our own pets. And lastly, let me remind us that litter infects soil and agriculture, which means more illnesses. No one wants any of this.
Picture this: if everyone recycled one aluminum can, 295 million new aluminum cans could be made, and greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 6,750 passenger cars off the road would be saved, according to the USA Today website. It’s a big deal.
When you leave trash around, you are disrespecting our school and community, and our values. If you have trash, make a mental note to throw it away in the correct place until it becomes second nature if it has not already. While it takes a little bit more effort to determine where your trash should go, also take those few extra seconds to figure out what can be recycled, what is food, and what is general garbage. Even though the three R’s of sustainability, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” have been ingrained in our memories since early elementary school, they are not in practice all of the time. When you throw away trash, throw it away correctly, because it makes all the difference.
The last thing we want is for our privilege and tradition of eating in the park to be revoked. If this continues, we will regret its effect on our environment’s future, and on how we are viewed.
But through a team effort of moral and sensible actions starting now, we’ll do just the opposite.