The Issue of Waste Disposal and Littering in Cities

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Every year about 2.6 trillion tons of trash from the world is dumped and the US makes up about 250 million of those tons. Due to this, communities worldwide has been experiencing negative effects like environmental destruction and health problems. When all waste builds up, it will soon have nowhere to go. Places such as oceans, lakes, and land are contaminated by waste every day. Contamination includes chemical waste, biological waste, and plastic waste. Landfills are where the most trash ends up, followed by recycling facilities, trash incinerators, and anaerobic digester facilities.

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Although there are places to hold and get rid of garbage, some waste doesn’t make it into a trash bin, compost bin, or recycling bin. A lot of trash ends up on the streets, which then can flow into the sewage system. The sewage is a place of many human waste products, such as hygiene products, feces, pesticides, etc. If a pipe bursts due to blocked pipes or old pipes, then quite a few consequences will follow, especially in countries where there isn’t adequate water treatment.

People that are most susceptible to waste and other hazards are mostly in or around the impoverished areas in the United States and around the world. Very poor slums in multiple countries (especially 3rd world countries) are nearer to landfills, making the individuals they're susceptible to many diseases such as hepatitis, dysentery, and cholera. A lot of children in these slums treat the landfills as their playgrounds; the children swim in contaminated water and run around barefoot making them a magnet to many diseases stated above.

In lower class areas of Countries such as India, the poorest citizens are energy efficient for survival. The middle class rarely has to worry about the materials they use, but the poverty stricken citizens use the trash they forage as a way to make money from a plant established in Dehli around 1986. The plant burns garbage to produce energy, however the plant is not able to produce much energy due to there not being enough waste to put in. The Political, Economical Research Center (PERC) states “There are two reasons why recycling in poorer countries like India is so thorough. First, the low value of labor justifies the long hours spent extracting material… Second, because the country is poor, many products made from virgin raw materials are luxury goods, simply too expensive for most people. Thus, there is a ready market for reused and recycled goods.” Wealthier countries are less waste efficient because their citizens are able to afford and throw away things without having to worry about it.

In the US, cities, people from poorer backgrounds live in litter and hazardous areas. An article published by the University of Michigan states “ Hazardous waste sites, polluting industrial facilities and other locally unwanted land uses are disproportionately located in nonwhite and poor communities.” around these areas, people of color have little say in what happens in their communities because they are seen as people of little power. Additionally, researchers have found that people In the United States who live within a 3 kilometer range on a hazardous site where people of color.

Another article written by Alexandra K. Murphy called “Litterers”: How Objects of Physical Disorder Are Used to Construct Subjects of Social Disorder in a Poor Suburb, states that, “Few businesses provide trash cans... The municipality fined the owners and demanded that they either have the litter picked up daily or provide a garbage can by the bus stop… During a three month period after this, I witnessed on four occasions individuals sitting at the bus stop throwing their trash into this garbage can. Also during this time, litter was relatively absent from the ground in the area.” These businesses were in the poorer areas of the city, where litter was a common sight. Also, in these neighborhoods there aren’t organizations or systems that will properly clean up the litter accumulation. The article states, “no funds have been allocated for municipal-wide litter cleanup; nor does the municipality contract with private agencies to attend to the litter problem.”

A lot of problems stated by the article above have applied to Louisville. There aren’t trash bins in areas that are needed. “A review of city trash bin locations shows that, in 91 percent of the 340 complaints in Taylor Berry, there’s no public trash can on the block.” areas that have the most complaints of trash are Taylor Berry, Portland, Shawnee, Old Louisville and Russel. These areas are where the poorest occupants live in Louisville. Contrastingly, downtown Louisville areas have less complaints of trash due to the availability of trash cans. However, even though there are trash cans, the city fails to empty the bins and continues to let trash overflow from the bins. The neglect of city officials caused in turn the people to not care for the city either.

Although there will be certain materials that might not ever break down, it’s good to start somewhere to try and deal with trash. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends buying less hazardous waste products and replacing it with something else. Hazardous item chemicals can go into other parts of the environment and cause harm. The EPA also suggests recycling your tires, oil, glass, paper, and batteries. They also push for everyone to look for alternatives to some of these items and to research on what is accepted in your local recycling facilities.

In conclusion, there is a trend of waste accumulating in the impoverished areas of the world. People in poverty will have to deal with most of the negative outcomes from bad waste management. A lot of the poorer areas in cities are surrounded by litter because the city does not install enough trash cans for the neighborhoods. Small changes people make to their lifestyle is by recycling and looking for alternatives to everyday items that are harmful to the environment.

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