Littering takes place across the world and is an issue that environmentalists have been tackling for years. The sheer amount of litter that ends up on our streets and in our waterways is polluting the earth and damaging communities. Here in Carlow, we are working to decrease the amount of litter that ends up on our streets, making the area nicer and cleaner for both visitors and residents. Most of us are aware that littering has a negative impact on the community, but many do not realise the extent of the effects it has. Here is our guide to the impact of littering on the community and how we can make positive changes to reduce litter in Carlow.


What is Litter?

Litter is waste product such as food packaging, bottles and plastic that is disposed of incorrectly. Proper disposal of waste involves placing rubbish into a bin or the correct recycling box for appropriate disposal by the local council. However, much of our waste ends up in places it shouldn’t be, not only causing danger to the environment but to both animals and humans too.


Why Do People Litter?

So we know that a lot of litter ends up on our streets and in waterways, but why does this happen? Unfortunately, there are a few main reasons why littering is such a big problem in the area. The number one reason for littering around the world is laziness… people simply dispose of items incorrectly because they want to discard them quickly and do not want to look for a recycling or general waste bin. In some communities this can be due to a lack of bins in public areas, or a presence of litter in the area already can influence people to leave their waste in the same place. Unfortunately, this deliberate act by humans can only be altered if people are truly aware of the effect littering has. Littering can also take place by mistake; waste items can come off lorries, waste trucks and boats.


What are the Effects of Littering?

There are a variety of effects that littering can have within the Carlow community and the rest of the world. These include:

Unnatural Chemicals Cause Pollution

As litter deteriorates it can release chemicals into the atmosphere that shouldn’t be there. This imbalance of chemicals can end up in our land, soil and water, causing long-term health problems to both animals and humans. Waste should be disposed of properly so that decomposition and recycling can happen in a safe and controlled environment.

Kills Wildlife in the Water and on Land

Litter can often be mistaken by animals as food or something to investigate, however, many times this waste can be consumed or become stuck around the body of an animal. When this happens, waste kills our wildlife which has an overall impact on our ecosystems. Most notably marine animals are highly affected by litter, with hundreds of thousands of marine life dying each year due to waste that humans have disposed of incorrectly!

Air Pollution

Litter pollutes the air as it decomposes, releasing unwanted chemicals into the air we breathe. Too much litter in a community can decrease the quality of air, impacting both our and our children’s health. Disposing of waste correctly means that litter is kept away from thriving communities.

Health Problems Due to the Spread of Bacteria

As well as litter polluting the air and land, bacteria can easily grow from contaminated litter in our streets and can be spread as disease if touched by humans or consumed by animals. Litter should never be touched with bare skin, so if you want to help by picking up litter make sure you wear gloves and/or use litter picking equipment.


How Do We Work to Prevent Littering?

It is vital that the Carlow community comes together to tackle littering in the area. We want to continue building a safe and positive community that residents love to live in and others love to visit. To help minimise the amount of litter that ends up on our streets you can:

• Start a conversation with your children, friends and family about litter and why it is so harmful
• Educate others on the impact that littering has on the environment
• Pick up litter you see in the streets (with gloves) or take part in regular community clean-ups
• Learn how to dispose of your waste correctly; find out which items you should be recycling and which should go to general waste


Love Carlow: Working to Create a Better Community

Love Carlow is a project by the County Carlow Chamber of Commerce, established as a re-generation project in 2016 with the aim of making Carlow a great place to live, work, shop, socialise and visit. We want to get our residents talking about our wonderful town in a positive way, and build the community to one that is environmentally friendly while also a thriving hub for businesses. Find out more about our work at and start educating friends and family on littering today!