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Don’t let your neighborhood turn into a waste dump

Trash begins to pile up on unoccupied property / CEC file photo

We’ve seen the problem of illegal trash dumping everywhere. Empty cans, plastic bags, and rotting food can be bad enough, but unwanted furniture, a worn-out mattress, or old tires can soon turn an unoccupied lot into landfills

Earthday.org reports that in 2017, the United States produced 267.8 million tons of solid waste, some is dumped in landfills which releases methane gas into the atmosphere, resulting in more global warming. Only 9 percent of plastic waste is recycled; some of that plastic is picked up by wildlife — which either gets trapped in the plastic or tries to eat it, can’t digest it, and dies.

A report from U.N. Environment Programme states that unmanaged trash not properly disposed of is burned, releasing black carbon into the air. The black carbon becomes fine particles that penetrate deep into lungs and blood vessels. The World Health Organization reports that those fine particles from air and household pollutants result in the deaths of 7 million people globally per year.

What of the heavy trash in neighborhoods, roadways, beaches, etc.? A great place to start cleaning up the city is to avoid dumping heavy trash in unoccupied areas. If you do see an illegal dumping site, report it to your municipality — and continue to report the site if no action has been taken. City and county precincts throughout the area have heavy trash pick-up days and drop-off sites should you miss those days.

If you’d like to be more involved, West University Place is set to begin a Master Recycler Course on Thursday. On Saturday, SPLASh has their Frenchtown Road Cleanup at the Bolivar Peninsula and the Buffalo Bayou Partnership will keep trash from accumulating at Buffalo Bayou Park. And if you’re renovating, make sure your contractor doesn’t dump illegally.

Heavy trash isn’t just an eyesore. It affects the environment, hence it affects all of us. Do your part. And of course, reduce, reuse, and recycle.