How to Keep the Environment Clean

The two aspects of our environment most invoked when we talk about keeping the environment clean are litter and water pollution. We will discuss both in this article.

Litter

Litter is ugly and it can harm people and wildlife. Picking up litter can be costly for cities and highway departments.

Dog fouling in public places (another form of litter) is a serious health risk, particularly for young children.

Cigarette butts are another unpleasant form of litter. They may seem small, but with several trillion butts littered every year they are the number one source of litter in this county. Cigarette butts make up a large part of much urban litter and they can take up to 12 years to break down.

So how do we keep litter off our public places and keep the environment clean?
The answer is, of course, firstly educate the public to take their litter home, and when they do not, it is necessary to ensure that efficient street cleaning is provided.

Street cleaning is controlled by the Department of Public Works in all towns and cities and is usually removed by appointed contractors or the Council's own direct labor force. When it works well you will usually find that the local businesses take an active interest in assisting in streamlining the process with also making further regular consultation with the community. Street cleaning is often, but not always, carried out for extended hours, and these hours may range from 8 am until 12 or 2 pm in our big cities. Street cleaning is an absolute necessity in all modern well run cities.

Street cleansing is a manual task and labor is a significant cost. Satisfaction with the cleanliness of streets and commercial areas has improved in the UK since privatization. One reason likely for this is that previously the Council's staff had to be the policemen ensuring the efficiency of their own work. Human nature is such that to be on both sides of such a role seldom works efficiently.

Street cleansing is only a part of city housekeeping which in this article is just a part of how to keep the environment clean. The council (municipal) health department's business is to see that all the people have pure air, pure water, pure food, and are protected from contagious diseases.

Street cleaning is an important element of city housekeeping and is provided more and more by highly mechanized equipment such as through the use of street sweepers and flushers. Most streets are scheduled for cleaning at least five times per year, and paved alleys are cleaned once.

Street cleaning must always be strictly enforced, and react to events when litter will build up more quickly, but without clean water in the rivers and streams throughout the city the municipal authorities could hardly be said to be keeping the environment clean.

River Pollution

The avoidance of river pollution is if anything more essential than street cleansing, especially where the poorer population must rely on the river water for domestic and even drinking water use.

If asked how to keep the environment clean from river pollution we would have to say by collecting all sewage and treating it before allowing it to discharge back into the river downstream.

River pollution is the most devastative phenomena to health in the poor and developing. Pollution is occurring when the water shows an alteration of physical and chemical parameters such as odor, taste, colour, turbidity.

If polluted water is tested in a water quality analysis laboratory there are a number of tell-tale changes you will notice. These are exemplified by changes in total hardness, pH, chlorides etc. Expect to see BOD, and COD in increased quantities as well, among others.

River pollution is a serious problem. In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the issues involved but, at the same time, continued urbanization and industrialization and the continued growth of population produce ever-increasing amounts of waste for disposal.

Dangerously, River pollution is concentrated around urban areas. River Pollution is a major environmental problem today, but we don't seem to be making as much progress as we should. Perhaps the reason is ideological?

Where sewage treatment plants have been installed the levels of indicator bacteria and nitrogen in the discharge should be tracked to measure management performance. If a failure in discharge quality occurs the municipal authorities must act to determine changes needed in monitoring protocol to avoid any further occurrences. It is important to also report progress and recommendations to inform planning and management decision-makers. Levels of any pollutant can be measured by water quality testing methods, and once the analysis has been provided it is always important to check the data carefully against the legal standards. For example, the State of Florida sets the safe health standard for bacteria as less than 1000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 milliliters.

The most common sources of pollution are domestic water discharges from the houses in the catchment area, and uncontrolled dumps of solid domestic wastes along tributary banks and in dry ravines. Industrial discharge can be a major cause of pollution. Each industrial discharge usually contains chemicals and organic compounds which can enter the bodies of many aquatic animals. Even ground water can be polluted from the soakage pits, septic tanks, manure, garbage, etc. and that eventually discharges to the rivers still worsening the problem.

Industrial pollutants from smaller units continue to be a problem. While most of the large and medium industrial units have put up treatment plants and are using them. 40 per cent of the industrial waste seen in one example - a whopping 4000 mld - is from small scale industries in cities and residential colonies.

Steve Evans has written for the Wasters blog since 2006. It recently received nearly 50,000 hits in a month, and continues to grow. If you have any interest in free waste settlement ebook - download-ready - shouldn't you take a look?