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Animals and Rubbish – The Good, the Bad and the Weird

Rubbish that is disposed of improperly has a terrible (often irreversible) effect on human health and wildlife. Out of the two, animals seem to suffer the most since they cannot recognise the threat that waste can be for them even if it is staring them in the face. But the effects of littering and irresponsible waste disposal practices have various effects on animals and, as strange as that may sound, those effects are not always bad. Sometimes they can also be good or just plain weird.

On the danger of littering and animals

Glass bottlesNearly all types of waste are potentially dangerous for the well-being of animal species. That is especially true for man-made synthetic items which take a long time before they decompose. Some of these categories of rubbish can be easily recycled and reused which is why proper waste disposal and sorting is so vital for the global wildlife. Some animals are even on the verge of becoming extinct specifically or partly because of the large amount of waste that is present in their natural habitats. The Humpback Whale and Kemp’s Ridley Turtle are two examples of that. There are only 2,500 species left of the former species and barely 500 of the latter.

Litter that is particularly dangerous for animals:

  • Chewing gum – Can get stuck on birds’ feathers or on small animals’ fur limiting their movements;
  • Beer and soft drink cans – Animals can cut themselves on them;
  • Plastic bags and bottles – Many marine species, like turtles and whales, confuse plastic waste with food and they eat it which can have fatal consequences;
  • Tin jars and cans – when such discarded items have been previously used for the storing of food, animals attempt licking off the remaining food in the container and that often results in getting their head stuck;

Common types of waste and their average disposal times

Type of waste Time it takes to dispose completely
Disposable diapers At least 250 years
Disposable cups 50 years
Nylon fabrics At least 30 years
Aluminium cans 200-250 years
Batteries 100 years
Tin cans 50 years
Glass bottles 1 million years
Styrofoam Non-biodegradable
tinfoil Non-biodegradable
Ink cartridges Non-biodegradable

Proper rubbish collection is key

Unlike sparrows and sea skater, humans should not try and make the most of the rubbish that has not been properly disposed of because namely, we are responsible for its presence. What we should do instead is to find new ways to better manage and dispose of the waste that we produce. For the time being, one of the easiest and most effective ways through which we can make that possible is related to the use of green rubbish removal services. This will guarantee not only that your home is clean of junk and unwanted possessions but that such rubbish is collected and disposed of safely, quickly and effectively. Why deal with the clearance of the waste your own office or home when you can rely on the assistance of vetted and competent professionals who will carefully haul and transport various categories of junk to special rubbish depots or even to licensed recycling centres? This may not sound like an important thing for you but it is of vital importance for the environment and local wildlife as it reduces the negative effects which domestic and commercial waste have on our planet and on all the creatures that live on it. Get in touch with a skilled team, doing rubbish removals in Catford, London, for example, whenever you need help getting rid of your junk. Many animals will thank you for that.

Rubbish can also affect animals’ behaviours

Seagull eating out of a binThe presence of a large amount of waste can also alter the behaviour of animals in many unexpected ways. Seagulls are notorious for eating food debris and for gathering around seaside diners and restaurants and even attacking innocent tourists and vacationers just so that they can have a bite of their sandwich. The natural diet of this noisy bird also consists of small fish and insects. But lately, seagulls have become so accustomed to dining out that they have started to migrate to inland towns and cities in search of new fast food leftovers. Much like the seagulls, many white storks have stopped migrating to Africa. Instead, they stay in warmer European countries like Portugal and survive on waste and food debris they find there.

Making the most of it

Strangely enough, pollution and waste do not have a negative effect on all animals. It turns out there are actually a few notable exceptions as some animals know how to take advantage of the current situation. Such an example is a type of phytoplankton that has witnessed an unexpected rise thanks to the melting ice caps. Scientists have discovered that when icebergs start to melt under the influence of pollution, release a wide range of minerals and carbon dioxide into the world ocean. The above-mentioned microscopic creatures, however, thrive on these things which is why they have increased in number in recent years.

Another fact which you may also find quite unusual is that cigarette fags can actually be beneficial for some birds. But don’t worry. You are not likely to see a pigeon or a sparrow smoking a cigarette in your local park anytime soon. What you may see, however, are birds that are intentionally making nests using cigarette buds. Some bird species like house sparrows and house finches, for instance, love using this material when they are building a nest for their little ones since it effectively repels mites and other animals and microorganisms that have the tendency to attack and take over bird nests. Nevertheless, that does not mean that you should start throwing your cigarette buds on the ground. Nicotine is very toxic and although it can keep mites away from the nest, they can also kill baby birds.

Sea skaters, on the other hand, have come to love plastic waste. These small insects use things like plastic bags and bottles to lay their eggs on them. Traditionally, sea skaters use floating pieces of wood or branches for that purpose but plastic floats much better than wood and it seems that some of these insects have already noticed that.


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