The Risks Associated With Uncollected Waste
We don’t usually think too much about garbage collection because it is such a routine occurrence. We fill our cans and bring them out to the curb or alley once a week, the garbage truck comes, collects the trash and drives off. For some in rural areas, they have to drive their own trash to a local collection site, but the same principles apply. Now imagine what would happen if garbage collection would suddenly grind to a halt. Any disruption to this well-oiled machine will not only be a serious inconvenience, but it can also open the door to a host of problems we are ill-equipped to deal with.
Trash Buildup and Pests
Most of us have probably forgotten to take out the trash at some point. Think about how quickly that trash accumulates as one week’s worth turns into two or three. Aside from the amount of trash that builds up, it usually doesn’t take long before flies start to show up. Flies lay eggs. Maggots grow inside of our cans and feed off of the trash until they become flies and continue the cycle. One thing about flies is that they deposit remnants of that garbage wherever they go, and flies and garbage represent one of the biggest threats to public health that most people don’t think about.
Aside from flies, vermin will undoubtedly show up as they become attracted to the smells of rotting food. Scavengers and opportunistic creatures such as rats, mice, raccoons, stray dogs and cats can also transmit and spread disease. Then there is the issue of water. Garbage can start to leech into alleys and streets, as well as the sewer system before being carried off by rain and runoff. This enables harmful pathogens to be deposited over large areas where it crosses paths people and pets.
Disease-laden dust particles from garbage can be transported by the air and deposited in our soil, homes and ultimately our skin, eyes and lungs.
When Garbage collection Stops
Most of us have never encountered a situation where garbage was left to rot in our streets, alleys or yards. There have been a few notable garbage collection strikes in major cities over the years that turned into public health nightmares. However, the chances of that occurring in this day and age are slim to none as workers are generally prohibited from going on strike either by law or as a condition of employment. Consequently, the next time that we face a massive disruption to garbage collection will stem from some kind of crisis or disaster.
Taking Matters in Our own Hands
Chances are when that day comes, we will be forced to take matters into our own hands. It will be up to us to either bring our trash to collection sites or landfills, or burn or bury our waste. This is a task that a lot of people will not be wiling or able to undertake, and the consequences will be that our communities will be flooded with refuse as it quickly accumulates.
If you want a glimpse of what it’s like to live in areas with poor garbage collection or sanitation services, just look at some videos and pictures of cities in the developing world. You’ll see garbage, dust and pools of filthy, putrid water everywhere. It doesn’t take a lot for some kind of disruption to produce similar occurrences in our own back yards as well. In fact, if you take a closer look at coverage of some major disasters in this country, you will undoubtedly notice how our waste products find their way into almost everything.
Keep in mind that there is a good chance that we will have to contend with our own waste as well as what else is deposited nearby. Additionally, it’s important to remember that even if we could maintain a relatively-sanitary environment, insects, animals and people can transport harmful substances and deliver them right to our homes, shelters or bug-out locations.
The reason we bring this up is to highlight the importance of having a plan in place that will cover waste disposal during a SHTF situation. The more that you can do to prepare now will go a long way toward helping you to minimize exposure to disease and illness associated with poor public sanitation.