Let's Not Kid Ourselves

Nov. 15, 2006

At the University of Michigan we pride ourselves in being environmentally conscious. We take brisk walks in the Arb, chat with squirrels, and take lecture notes on recycled paper. We have student groups like Environmental Action and Environmental Justice that stake out in the diag and hold up green posters with pictures of the rain forest. But let’s not kid ourselves here. The litter that we contribute has a huge impact on the environment. According to the EPA, litter…

  • “ reduces the aesthetic appeal of public places including streets, parks and waterwayscan kill aquatic life directly (eg. through choking) and indirectly through its impacts on water quality

  • can cause blockages of the drainage system and flooding (costing councils millions of dollars to repair)

  • can be dangerous to people particularly when it involves items such as broken glass, needles and syringes

  • may be a fire hazard (lit cigarettes being thrown from vehicles)

  • costs the community huge sums of money to clean up every year

  • can decrease oxygen levels when it decays in water.”

Litter can also

  • attract vermin such as squirrels, skunks, and raccoons.

  • attract more litter (people think it’s okay to litter where litter is already present).

If we could be causing all this damage to the environment, maybe we should reevaluate our tree-hugging abilities.

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