Litter. What an interesting concept. Out of all the activities that we as humans participate in, littering might be the strangest of them all. As a species, we are really good at creating waste. However, we are also pretty smart and have implemented easy ways to dispose of waste properly. So, to create waste and then toss waste products improperly, with complete abandonment, without consent, and in inappropriate locations seems almost inconceivable. Right?
Hard to believe or not, litter is a pervasive problem. And as Leave No Trace advocates, it is consistently a topic of discussion. Who litters? Why do people litter? What is litter? How can we put an end to this destructive phenomenon?
Choosing to litter or being careless in the handling of waste is first and foremost a personal choice. This may stem from a lack of connection and communal ownership of public spaces or perhaps a feeling that trash “is not my responsibility,” someone else will clean it up. And unfortunately, litter begets litter. Once trash is on the ground, it will, without a doubt, attract more trash.
Litter is any type of waste thrown where it does not belong. This can include, but is not limited to, chewing gum, wrappers, dog poop, paper, cans, bottles, plastic bags and cigarette butts. Not only is litter an unsightly mess; it is also detrimental to our environment. Litter poisons animals, damages plants, contaminates water and pollutes soil. This is a serious problem that risks the health of our planet and the beauty of our lands. According to Keep America Beautiful, an estimated $11.5 billion is spent each year in the United States on litter cleanup projects. That is an expensive solution to an easily solvable problem.
Leave No Trace is committed to minimizing our impact by taking responsibility for not only the amount of waste we produce but what happens to it when it leaves our hands. On the road as Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers we are blessed to meet a lot of wonderful people. We were overly joyed when our paths crossed with an individual who is taking a stand against litter in beautiful and creative ways. Sharon Huff is picking up litter as she travels all over the United States and is transforming it into pieces of art. With all of her trash-inspired artwork she is building a Museum of Litter. Sharon is a leading figure in the discussion on litter, how we can end it, and how to use it creatively in the meantime.
We encourage everyone to join the discussion on litter with your thoughts, words, and most importantly actions. You have a role to play in preventing litter. It takes just one person to positively impact the behavior of others in their community and set and example by trashing your trash. We challenge you to reduce the amount of waste you produce and minimize your impact by focusing on creative ways you can reuse, up-cycle, or recycle. Museum of Litter is aiming to make litter a thing of the past and so should we!
May we all committed to the health of the Earth, as it is the source of ours.
Ninjas for Nature - dani & roland