Top 10 Negative Effects of Garbage on the Environment

Cities around the world are faced with great challenges as a result of an increase in urbanization, one of the major challenges is the rising quantity of waste generated on daily basis and littering due to the high demand for food products and other essentials.

This leads to a large amount of garbage in public places which has consequently led to various adverse effects of garbage on the environment.

Waste bins in public places fill up faster than ever and inevitably many of the bins end up overflowing before being collected, leading to not only littered streets and bad odors but also negative health and environmental impacts.

In some cities around the world, the careless approach of local bodies and governments towards proper waste management and maintaining cleanliness in the environment has led to several severe outcomes ranging from both known and unknown diseases to the death of the animal and human population, especially in the developing countries of the world.

While in most developed countries the waste collection processes are efficient enough to prevent major disasters from happening. Garbage is useless or disposable materials that are littered in an area making the place or area untidy.

This causes pollution, which is a major threat to the environment and has increasingly become a cause for concern in many countries. As humans are largely responsible for the presence of garbage or trash in the environment.

Therefore, it is important to understand the need to adequately, carefully, and properly trash used materials, as well as help to encourage people not to litter in the environment.

Although garbage does not at all times pose a deadly threat to human life as dumping tons of toxic waste around the environment, but then overflowing or littered waste is still a great nuisance and a risk to our health and environment. In this article, we present ten negative effects of garbage on the environment.

10 Negative Effects of Garbage on the Environment

  • Breeding Ground for insects and Disease vectors.
  • Air Pollution
  • Contamination of Water Bodies
  • Climate Change
  • Contamination of the Soil
  • Exposure to Health Risks
  • Bad Municipal Wellbeing
  • It can lead to Fire Hazard
  • It Reduces Property Value and Affects Tourism
  • Habitat Loss

1. Breeding Ground for insects and Disease vectors

Vectors are disease-carrying organisms such as mosquitoes, rats, etc. Garbage bins are an ideal breeding ground for vectors, bacteria, vermin, and other insects.

These vectors and insect that thrive in garbage bins is also the same organism that visits our different homes and roams around our lunch buffet, feeds on it as well as drop their offspring on our plate.

And at such, there is an increased risk of contracting diseases such as typhoid fever, food poisoning, enteric fever, gastroenteritis, and other major illnesses.

Besides some disease vectors and insects as mentioned, other animals that thrive in the garbage in and around the containers include foxes, wild cats, and stray dogs.

2. Air pollution

On daily basis, we identify polluted air, especially through bad odors, which are usually caused by decomposing of waste and liquid waste items.

Obnoxious odor is one of the major outcomes of garbage which invariably leads to air pollution, causing various respiratory diseases and other adverse health effects as contaminants are absorbed from the lungs into other parts of the body and the bloodstream.

The toxic substances in air contaminated by waste include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane. Garbage reduces environmental air quality due to the smell and toxic/chemical vapor emanating from them and when inhaled impacts human health heavily.

3. Contamination of Water Bodies

Not only does garbage contribute to air pollution, but it also contributes to water pollution. Overflowing garbage can be blown or washed into rivers, forests, lakes, and oceans, and, eventually can pollute waterways and aquatic environments.

Based on recent data, 7 billion tons of debris is introduced into the world’s oceans annually and most of it is long-lasting plastic. Garbage and liquid waste that end up in water bodies negatively alter the chemical composition of the water.

This type of pollution is called water pollution. This type of pollution hurts all ecosystems existing in the water, including fish and other animals that drink the polluted water.

Not only does it affect surface water, but liquid from the garbage can also seep into the soil and affect the quality of groundwater. This creates issues for those who rely on well water or groundwater to survive.

4. Climate Change

Garbage in the environment is a major environmental quality threat. The garbage that is dumped in landfills releases methane gas. It’s good to know that open landfills were found to represent 91% of all landfill methane emissions.

The burning of large, open piles of trash in various parts of the world emits dangerous levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is heating our planet.

Researchers have calculated that approximately 40% of the world’s garbage is burned in this fashion, posing large-scale risks to both our atmosphere and the people that live near these burning sites.

5. Contamination of the Soil

Hazardous household waste items such as batteries, computer equipment, and leftover paints can be particularly dangerous to the soil. Plant and animal life may suffer from this exposure to toxic materials and chemicals.

Whenever dangerous chemicals and toxins are left as the trash they can leak out toxins that eventually get into the soil.

This can contaminate the soil around the area, which can affect the surrounding habitats of soil microorganisms and the fertility of the soil, thereby impeding crop yield.

Oftentimes, once the soil has been contaminated, it requires costly restoration of the land.

6. Exposure to Health Risks

Direct handling of overflowing waste exposes one to health risks. For waste collectors, the risks of picking up and handling garbage include infections, chronic diseases, and accidents.

Direct contact with waste can result in skin and blood infections through infected wounds, various illnesses resulting from the bites of animals feeding on the waste, and intestinal infections transmitted by flies feeding on the waste.

Picking up garbage is also risky due to nappies, white goods, asbestos, sharp objects, needles, and potentially hazardous waste. These materials pose serious health and safety risks to individuals exposed to them.

Furthermore, a polluted environment can encourage the spread of diseases. Toxic chemicals and disease-causing microorganisms in the trash may also contaminate water systems when they are been washed into nearby water bodies, they tend to spread water-borne diseases which can negatively affect the health of both animals and humans if unsafe, unclean or untreated water is consumed

7. Bad Municipal Well-being

Everyone wants to live, visit and spend some time in places that are fresh, clean, and healthy. Places with high ecstatic value. Besides causing all sorts of health and some other environmental issues, garbage is an environmental nuisance and an eyesore.

A smelly city with poor sanitation and garbage or trash all over the place does not attract people or tourists, let alone investments. Cities keep losing money, and they also miss out on the revenue and job opportunities coming from proper waste control and recycling.

8. It can lead to Fire Hazards

Garbage such as chemicals, tires, household refuse, used automobile parts, hazardous medical waste, and green waste can increase the risk of wildfires. Cigarette butts may also start fires. When these wastes are exposed to high temperatures and dumpsite decomposition, these items can cause fire quickly.

Other than being exposed to extreme temperatures, when the hazardous materials combust, the site fire would have toxic air particles that could be inhaled by humans and animals, which could cause serious consequences for wildlife.

9. It Reduces Property Value and Affects Tourism

The value of property most especially land reduces in places where garbage is found. Besides, land or places that have been turned into garbage areas can serve as magnets for other criminal activities.

The dirt and smell can also make such areas unsightly, which impacts tourism, especially if are found in nearby forests or beside the road.

10. Habitat loss

Habitat alteration is the change in the surroundings of a living organism. It can be caused by trash and debris in rivers and oceanic convergence (accumulation) zones, on beaches, and submerged benthic (at and near the bottom of rivers and oceans) habitats.

As debris builds up, habitat structure may be modified, light levels may be reduced in underlying waters, and oxygen levels may be depleted. These changes can undermine the ability of open water and benthic habitats to support aquatic life.

As the physical structure of the habitats is changed, there may be indirect impacts of marine debris such as declines in species that are dependent on these habitats for foraging and shelter.

For example, the degradation of coral reefs globally has the potential to undermine the survival of a diverse array of invertebrates, fish, and vertebrates that depend on this limited resource, including many, threatened and endangered species. Also, humans will find it difficult to live in places will garbage is disposed of.


These are ten devastating effects our garbage has on the environment. Our garbage goes somewhere. We have to remember that just because we throw something away, doesn’t mean it disappears. Most times it is found somewhere that does not help the environment.

Therefore, the ideal way to handle the problem of garbage in the environment is for each member of society to take responsibility and try their best to properly dispose of waste. By recycling, you can prevent these negative effects and help to save the environment from contamination and pollution.

Also, measures must be taken by appropriate local authorities to ensure that garbage bins installed in various areas should be properly disposed of when filled up, it should not be allowed to overflow. To avoid additional problems due to overfilling, the bins must be emptied regularly.


Environmental Consultant at Environment Go! | + posts

Ahamefula Ascension is a Real Estate Consultant, Data Analyst, and Content writer. He is the founder of Hope Ablaze Foundation and a Graduate of Environmental Management in one of the prestigious colleges in the country. He is obsessed with Reading, Research and Writing.

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