Each and every New Year’s Eve, people from all across the world celebrate the upcoming New Year by congregating in urbanized areas like New York’s Time Square. Close to one million people packed themselves into the Times Square celebration to welcome the arrival of 2018. Such a dense population of people would already leave behind a staggering amount of trash and waste, but it seems as if the New Year’s Eve celebrations are designed to produce as much waste as possible.
According to a post by AM New York, the New York Police Department requests sanitation crews to remove close to seventy trashcans across the Times Square area a good twenty-four hours before celebrations begin. This is a necessary safety precaution to prevent would-be bomb threats, hidden items, and any problems the waste baskets’ presence may cause.
It’s understandable, in today’s society, why police departments and state governments would be cautious when it comes to hidden spaces in public. It’s why stadiums don’t allow bags over a certain size along with other stipulations. However, it’s a costly procedure that leads to an increase in both paper and human waste during New Year celebrations.
Three thousand pounds of confetti rained down on the immense crowd in what what described as the most “beautiful experience” imaginable. Seemingly infinite amounts of colorful paper spread across Times Square, which stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Street. This alone would be a massive amount of litter, but that’s not all that gets dropped on the floor in the last few hours of each year. “Cigarette butts, party hats, favors, you name it,” New York City Department of Sanitation Chief Paul Visconti said on the experience. ” [and] it’s not easy because you also have the challenges of weather.”
A lack of porta-potties and easily accessible bathrooms also leads to an increase in questionable litter on the streets of these urban celebrations. One New York Post article discussed the flood of urine on the streets throughout the celebration. One person interviewed recalled how one of his friends gave up and began urinating in the street after being denied to go to the bathroom at hotels and restaurants in the surrounding area. One couple even admitted they were wearing adult diapers on live national TV, and used diapers littered the street among the rest of the garbage as the celebration neared close to fizzling out.
Confetti, cigarette butts, and undesired party hats that show no sentimental value to those who only wanted to get drunk and party the night away may litter the streets; but the New Years Eve celebrations litter the sky as well. The most iconic part of welcoming in a new year is fireworks, and they (like everything else) pollute our world as well. According to the Federal Environment Agency, fireworks produced well over 5,000 tons of particulate matter due to 2016-2017 New Years celebrations in Germany alone. Alongside this, wild animals (and pets!) can be displaced and distraught as the sky above them explodes for what in their mind appears to be for no reason. There are several scientific studies concerning the short and long term effects of fireworks; and it is a well known fact that fireworks can cause extensive air pollution with “metal particles, dangerous toxins, and smoke” that may never fully decompose or disintegrate. By “blowing up” the past year, we may be “blowing up” our future in the long run.
Overall, New Year’s Eve is a holiday which brings communities together. For the last day of the year, everyone seems to unify in celebration for new resolutions, new beginnings, and a brand new year. While we take the time to celebrate, we seem to forget just how much we can affect our own surroundings. Happy New Years, everyone.