How can the waste we throw away in nature affect us?

It is not new that worldwide humanity is facing a serious problem regarding the randomly abandoned waste in natural areas and beyond. At the heart of this problem we can find the carelessness of people and, in some cases, a lack of environmental education, as well as the poor management of the authorities.

We might think that the impact of the waste we throw away randomly is non-existent or insignificant, but this type of behavior can affect both our health and the health of animals in many ways. Moreover, the way we behave can cause others, children or adults, to behave similarly, multiplying the amount of waste and their negative impact, both to the environment and to us, the humans.

The lack of involvement of the authorities is the icing on the cake when it comes to waste management, with local officials rarely aware of the economic implications of good or poor waste management.

We have prepared a list of 7 serious problems caused by garbage randomly dumped in nature, on the outskirts of localities or on the waterfront, which should make us think seriously when tempted to do such gestures.

1. Risk of outbreaks of infection

Are you familiar with the piles of rubbish left on the roadside or on the riverbeds? If you see such places, it would be advisable to report them to the competent authorities because they include the ideal conditions for the formation of outbreaks. Garbage microorganisms can contaminate untreated water, which poses a danger to our health [1], but also to non-speakers, which are attracted to odor in waste areas.

Beware of mosquitoes because they are good transmitters of bacteria formed in random garbage! [2]

2. Garbage attracts bears

If we mentioned above that animals are attracted to the smell generated by garbage, we must not forget to mention that the presence of bears in the vicinity of inhabited areas may be due to the appetizing smell of food waste that we leave at random. .

In Romania, the presence of bears outside their natural habitat and as close as possible to humans is problematic and intensely debated. Taking back with us the leftovers of the food we eat when we go hiking or on the green grass (even if we know that they are biodegradable) can be our contribution to reducing this problem. Also, anti-bear or electric fence-protected bins could be a possible solution for localities facing the problem of garbage bears.

3. Microplastic source

Microplastics are pieces of plastic of microscopic size that are produced either artificially or by the degradation of plastic over time. [3]

Microplastics contain toxic substances that can affect human and animal health over time. Several studies have shown that microplastics can be ingested by marine animals, thus entering the food chain and also the human food chain. The chances of this happening are high, with an estimated 11 million tonnes of plastic entering the oceans each year. [4]

Researchers have already discovered microplastics in several foods such as fish, shellfish, sugar, honey, salt, bottled water and beer. It is estimated that each person ingests about 2,000 pieces of microplastic a week, or about 5 grams of plastic, the equivalent of a bank card. [5]

4. Generating costs for sanitation services

The European Litter Prevention Association estimates that between the European Union and the European Union spend between € 10 billion and € 13 billion a year collecting waste that has been dumped outside specially designed premises. [6] Imagine how this money could have been invested in areas such as education, infrastructure, or health care.

5. Deprecierea satisfacției vizitatorilor

Suntem siguri că ești iubitor al vacanțelor în destinații noi, în care să reușești să te detașezi de toate – munca ta, problemele tale, deșeurile tale…

Conform zicalei „ce ție nu-ți place, altuia nu face”, ar trebui să fim atenți la gunoiul pe care îl generăm atunci când suntem în vacanță astfel încât să ne asigurăm că nu o să ajungă sub privirile altor vizitatori care, la fel ca noi, sunt dornici să se bucure mai degrabă de frumusețea naturii și a obiectivelor dintr-o destinație, decât de deșeurilor celor care au trecut înaintea lor. Atunci când farmecul unei destinații este răpit de prezența gunoaielor, scade și satisfacția vizitatorilor acelei destinații.

Litoralul Mării Negre este un bun exemplu de așa nu atunci când vine vorba despre modul în care vizitatorii își gestionează gunoiul. Vama Veche și Costinești sunt destinațiile faimoase pentru mormanele de resturi care rămân în urma valurilor de turiști. Alegând să mergi în astfel de destinații te poți aștepta să împarți plaja nu doar cu alte sute de turiști, dar și cu miile de gunoaie lăsate în urmă de aceștia.

6. Less income for local communities

Impairment of visitor satisfaction should be a major drawback for destinations where the local community earns additional revenue from tourism activities. Tourists may feel discouraged to return to untidy places where garbage interferes with the beauty of nature. Moreover, the chances of them recommending these places to other people are much lower. Over time, destinations that are not actively involved in waste management may lose out on the number of tourists, and, implicitly, on the revenue they earn based on tourism activities.

7. Negative effects on wildlife

Animals, especially marine fauna, are the subject of human negligence in waste management. If the negative impact of plastic on humans is still in its infancy, in terms of animals, the harmful effects are very obvious.

Over the last decade, hundreds of animals have been identified that have been injured or even died trapped in plastic bodies or swallowing plastic. Worryingly, many of these animals are part of an endangered species. [7]

The images of the animals that have suffered as a result of the interaction with plastic waste are moving and should make us aware, once again, that we need the involvement of each of us to stop or at least minimize the harm that directly or indirectly we do it to nature.

This article was made within the PET Romania project, developed by the Romanian Ecotourism Association, in partnership with the Ţara Dornelor Ecotourism Associationthe Retezat Tourism Association and the Măgura Ecotourism Association, with the financial support of Active Citizens Fund Romania, a program funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants 2014-2021 .

The content of this material does not necessarily represent the official position of the EEA and Norwegian Grants 2014-2021; for more information visit