Trash, which can range from an “innocent” banana peel to many plastic bags of garbage, is an issue that seems to plague the city that we live in. This may not be a surprise to anyone reading this who also lives in Tirana: a walk of five meters downtown guarantees that you will encounter at least some form of litter. However, this isn’t just an issue that impacts the streets of Blloku—such littering can be seen anywhere, including parks and other natural habitats.
In order to asses how big of an issue littering truly is, our team conducted a research to help gain a more accurate perspective. In a survey sent out to 200 randomly selected participants, 58% said they had witnessed litter in a public space within the past 24 hours, and another 31% said within the past 2-3 days. Furthermore, when the participants were asked to rate the severity of littering in Tirana on a scale of 1-10 (1 being practically nonexistent to 10 being extremely severe), a supermajority of answers ranged from 7 to 10, with the most common rating being an 8 (chosen 71 times). Not only is the issue of littering common to happen, it’s also common to see.
Why is this issue so common in our country? The truth is no one takes it seriously. “How will throwing a piece of banana out of my car hurt the environment?” It won’t…until it will. Once everyone develops that mentality you no longer have one banana peel—you end up with millions. From a small piece of litter no one would notice, our country is actually ending up with a lot more. And that has detrimental effects on our environment. Following the Covid-19 pandemic, specifically, the issue of littering worsened as a result of masks, gloves, and other Covid-related accessories being thrown in public areas. When the participants of the survey were asked if any of the reported litters have been related to Covid-19, 21.4% responded that at least one of them was related to the pandemic. However, the pandemic is not responsible for the prevalence of the issue nor an increase of it—this issue ultimately results from us as individuals and the choices we make, and it cannot be lessened without the necessary action taken.
In Albania, there are sights of some of Europe’s most beautiful mountain ranges and beaches that can bring increased satisfaction not only to the civilians that inhibit such areas but also to possible tourists. However, what value do beaches and mountains hold if they are ruined by the pollution we inflict on our surroundings? Most individuals assume that the impact of their littering is minimal; however, with a shared mentality, a community can have the ability to make or break an issue. Because of this, we must all come together as a community with a different mentality, one that prioritizes our surroundings and one that prioritizes a better tomorrow.