Litter Kills Wildlife
Animals are innocent victims affected by litter every day. Researchers estimate that over one million animals die each year after ingesting, or becoming entrapped in, improperly discarded trash.
Plastic litter is the most common killer of animals, and marine animals are the most notably affected. Each year over 100,000 dolphins, fish, whales, turtles, and others drown after becoming entangled in or digesting plastic litter.
Trash-related injuries are among the saddest traumas we can witness while enjoying the outdoors. Whether it is an animal with a container stuck on its head or one that has swallowed a plastic bag and is suffering from an intestinal blockage, trash can cause terrifying or possibly deadly consequences. Even unintentional littering -- trash blown out of a truck bed or released balloons that land in the woods -- still poses a threat to wildlife.
Here are the harmful effects of littering, on Animals:
Littering introduces both noxious biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste into the environment. Animals that roam around the regions of such dumpsites tend to feed on the materials, such as food wrappers, and ingest them. The same can happen when the trash finds its way into the water that the animals drink.
This can lead to poisoning of the animals by the chemicals within the wastes. Birds and pets are particularly at high risk if they eat from the trash. The result is poor health conditions of the animals or even death due to poisoning or obstruction in their digestive systems.
- Physical Harm and Trapping
Non-biodegradable trash traps animals as they can become ensnared and wounded as they struggle to get themselves loose. The trash such as beer can ring, and wrongly discarded plastic items such as nets and ropes can entangle the limbs of the animals, sometimes even going around the animal’s necks and causing death because of asphyxiation.
Often creatures are found cutting themselves on sharp objects thrown away by humans or getting stuck in discarded gum.
If such trash finds a way into water bodies, it can also lead to death via drowning or suffocation due to the animal’s inability to get away from the water in the case of terrestrial animals or suffocation for aquatic animals as plastics hinder the animal’s ability to move within the water.
- Indigestible Trash
Non-biodegradable trash has an adverse effect on animals because it can cause problems if ingested. The animals become unable to digest the materials, and they end up clogging the digestive tracts causing painful and slow deaths.
Aquatic animals are mostly affected as they feed on smaller microscopic foods such as krill, which means they have to swallow large amounts of seawater, which sometimes contains indigestible plastics or metals. Victims include whales and sea birds, among other large aquatic fish and sea mammals.
- Habitats for Disease Vectors
Just like humans, animals are susceptible to microbial attacks. Litter provides the disease vectors breeding grounds to hide and multiply. In the long-run, it leads to outburst in their numbers, thereby spreading diseases to the animals. Vectors such as mosquitoes are known to transmit blood-borne diseases and tend to breed in stagnant water found in dumpsites.
- Plastic Litter
When plastic litter drifts out to sea, aquatic animals like turtles or dolphins may ingest the plastic. Plastic marine litter adversely affects at least 267 species globally, including 86% of sea turtles, 44% of seabirds, and 43% of marine mammals.
Plastic creates health problems for the animals, including depleting their nutrients and blocking their stomachs and intestines. Animals cannot break down plastic in their digestive system and will usually die. Pieces of plastic can also get tangled around animals’ bodies or heads and cause injury or death.
As much as possible, choose items that are easily biodegradable. Cleaning up the environment and protecting people and wildlife is everyone’s responsibility.
At The EcoFairy, our goal is to help you build a more sustainable life by offering you a line of reusable products. We offer products that last and that will help you reduce the amount of plastic you use.