10 Impacts of Litter: Why Change is Essential
Tennessee is full of incredible outdoor spaces. More and more, these spaces are being inundated with litter, damaging habitats and the wildlife that rely on them.
Every discarded item, no matter how small, leaves a lasting mark on our delicate ecosystem. The preservation of biodiversity, the health of our waterways, and the sustainability of our lands are all at stake.
- Wildlife often get trapped in discarded containers and thin materials like fishing line, leading to entanglement and injuries.
- Choking and injuries occur when wildlife mistakenly eat pieces of trash while foraging for food.
- Trash in the environment serves as a vector for diseases, easily spreading among wildlife and potentially affecting both wildlife and human populations.
- Litter contributes to the build-up of microplastics in water, posing a threat to aquatic life and the entire food chain.
- As litter breaks down, it can trigger algae blooms, resulting in the release of toxins and depletion of oxygen in the water, endangering aquatic organisms.
- Trash in waterways can obstruct drains, increasing the risk of flooding and damage to drainage systems.
- Decomposing litter alters nutrient levels in water, potentially contaminating it and making it unsafe for drinking.
- Similarly to water, litter decomposing on the land introduces toxins into the soil, hindering plant growth and jeopardizing the health of ecosystems.
- Litter on the land increases the risk of fires, acting as fuel and intensifying their spread.
- Litter attracts pests and insects, leading to infestations and disruptions in the natural balance of local ecosystems.
By understanding the impacts of litter and embracing the need for change, we can work together to protect our great state for future generations.
Tennessee Cleaner Landscapes for the Economy, Agriculture, and Nature (CLEAN) is focused on just that. Our goal is to address the growing litter problem and create actionable, statewide solutions to prevent litter from ever entering the landscape.
Featured photo by Timothy Loyd