As our society grows and our technology advances we tend get caught up in our daily lives and neglect the environment around us. We discard so much material that is sent to landfills or recycling plants but a fair bit of that waste ends up as litter blowing around our streets, countryside and even ending up in lakes. Polystyrene and Plastic are major contributors to this problem and can have an extremely negative effect on not only the environment but wildlife.
Polystyrene (Styrofoam) can be a dangerous material to animals. They may perceive it as food and eat it which can kill them because it will not break down in their stomachs or it may choke them. It doesn’t seem very dangerous but it also contains toxins which if heated can be released. Although that’s not much of a problem for animals it could possibly effect their nervous systems when eaten leaching out those toxins into their bodies.
When you buy a six pack whether it be Beer or Soda, The plastic rings that hold the cans or bottles together can be absolutely deadly if recklessly discarded. They can get tangled around the necks of birds and other animals as shown in the picture to the left choking them to death. Smaller animals can slip part way through them and possibly have their internal organs compressed denying them the ability to process food and starving them to death. Although these rings are made of photo degradable plastic (breaks down in sunlight) they don’t break down quick enough around an animal’s neck.
Smokers are some of the biggest litterbugs discarding cigarette butts. Many different people have argued that the filters break down in one, two, twenty years. FALSE! Cigarette butts never truly break down. Go ahead and try to get one to decompose! You’ll be at it for the long run. These are just another piece of litter which can be consumed by animals or just sit around seeping chemicals into the ground and they look terrible.
If you want to remedy the problem, there are many ways you can help avoid these problems. One thing is to try and limit your use of Styrofoam products and when you do discard them in the trash. Don’t pile it outside where it can blow away. Those Plastic rings from 6 packs I spoke of can be cut with scissors to eliminate the holes which can tangle around animals necks. As for cigarette butts… JUST DON’T THROW THEM ON THE GROUND! It’s not that we’re all at fault but we can do simple things to help eliminate large problems.