Let’s Talk Rubbish: Why we Litter, Its Effect and Way Forward for Nigeria

Updated: Mar 13, 2020

Let’s talk about littering: “It’s just one trash” everyone said, eventually a smelly heap was formed on the roadside.

Who litters more? Most of the roadside waste is generated by households, traders and people throwing items out of moving and parked vehicles. On the roadside, motorists (52%) and pedestrians (23%) are the biggest contributors to litter. Research also shows that people under 30 are more likely to litter than older people.

Why do people litter? Studies on littering associate it with personal choice, a lack of information, following-what-others-do syndrome, and “it’s not my responsibility” attitude.

People who believe littering is wrong, and therefore feel a personal obligation not to litter, are less likely to do so. And when those in moving vehicles comfortably throw out their waste on the highway, it shows how unaware those individuals are about the effect of their actions.

Moreover, litter begets litter: Psychologists say people are more likely to litter when they see others do so or see another’s trash. Also, most people don’t feel a sense of ownership for public areas and believe it's someone else's job to pick up after them.


One major effect of the reckless disposal of waste is the blockage of sewers and drainage systems, and the clogging of water bodies. Continuous littering is mostly due to improper environmental education and a lack of a reward-punishment system; leading people to believe that there are no consequences for littering.

However, littering greatly affects not just environmental cleanliness, but also the health of those living within the environment. For example, the clogging of drainage by waste ends up breeding mosquitoes which causes malaria -- a sickness many people take for granted but has taken millions of lives. Generally, littering is at the detriment of the well-being and security of mostly urban residents.

What should be done?

Studies show that the top 10 cleanest countries in the world, mostly European countries, have effective recycling systems, renewable energy sources (sometimes, using garbage), as well as garbage cans and sanitary facilities everywhere you go.

Individuals: Just stop LITTERING! If in a moving or parked vehicle, keep your waste in your car, until you can dispose of it in a refuse bin and not in a pile of waste at the wrong place.

Government and Private Companies: The availability and proximity to trash and recycling receptacles also impact whether someone chooses to litter. The government, and private sector (as corporate social responsibility, CSR), can help reduce littering by positioning more trash cans on the streets within a short walking distance. The private sector can also set up profitable business models that deal with recycling or waste disposal.

A good example: To reduce littering, some manufacturing companies (e.g. chemical and paint industry) have introduced a recall process that will reward individuals who returns empty/used plastic containers. This alone is good enough to discourage littering, seeing as Nigerians love to make money anyway they can, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Photo Credit: PremiumTimes


Still Craving for more? Read: Conserve Energy and The Atlantic

Article Credit: Ifunanya Akanonu

Tags: #Littering #Rubbish #Nigeria #KeepNigeriaClean

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