Littering and Dumping in public areas, although illegal, are still a widespread practice in Malta. Imagine going out for a walk and finding yourself in a public landfill. This is not science fiction but everyday reality in many parts of the Maltese countryside.
Litter and dumping waste have many consequences, primarily for nature (the biosphere), which we form part of. Dumping, in the first place, causes damage to the pre-existing natural habitat and degrades the ecosystem of the area. Furthermore, rubbish may also pose a threat to certain species, such as reptiles, amphibians and other small animals, as they might become trapped in plastic bags or aluminium cans, suffocate or suffer cuts. Disposing of plastic and other synthetic materials, have particular negative impacts, due to the fact that these degrade over a very long period of time and therefore last very long in nature (have a high environmental persistence). When these degrade, they become smaller but much more numerous in fragments. This phenomenon is the prime cause of the presence of micro-plastics, a particular type of waste which causes damage to birds, fish and many other organisms, including ourselves.
Dumping waste also increases the risk of fire and the emission of dangerous toxins such as dioxins and furans, which are significantly harmful to human health. Extinguishing such fires often requires large amounts of water, which is increasingly becoming a scarce resource. Additionally, human effort to control such fires might compromise the availability of Civil Protection Workers in other emergencies. Finally, litter may contain toxic waste which may percolate towards the groundwater table. The effects of pollution on this common resource which is used for drinking, irrigation, cleaning and other uses; will be suffered by the water users.
A messy environment does not only degrade our countryside, but also affects our psychology. People feel more relaxed and can enjoy the countryside to a greater extent when it is clean and free from litter and pollution.
For these reasons we as ADŻ, urge the public to put their litter in the trash cans and appeal to the government to take further action to prevent illegal dumping, especially in our amazing countryside, for us to enjoy. We call for education and awareness campaigns on littering and dumping (such as the commendable Garby and Tidy & Għalfejn Tħammeġ Pajjiżek?) to reach all age groups of society, starting from the youngest to the elderly.
James Gabarretta & Pascal Aloisio, ADŻ Malta Green Youth