When entering an urban city there is no doubt you’ll find rapid bustle going to and from businesses. Cars honking, street vendors prepping and selling, and people rushing through the streets to get to their destinations. One crucial aspect of urban cities that is often overlooked is the lack of sustainable resources and the resulting negative impact on the environment.

According to Owl Caution, “Urban areas have a high environmental impact that can be felt globally, as well as within its own borders.” Cities, in many ways have, become centers for consumption of energy and water. As time progresses, there are fewer places to find that aren’t devastatingly impacted by congested cities.

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Over Population

As the urban developments and the general population grows, there is more pressure placed on the environment. According to the Population Reference Bureau, the lifestyle, consumption patterns, and the regions where people inhabit these mannerisms have an effect on the environment.

When there is a high demand for resources, it generates more waste—and the people who are making these demands come from all walks of life. In WorldVision’s study, they found that those who are homeless move to urban areas in search of better opportunities for employment or survival. Even though developed countries tend to have better infrastructure and are able to provide more for people’s basic needs, there are many contributions of urban cities that can make both the homeless and the environment suffer; including over-population.

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Overcrowded zones also tend to increase the risk of disease. More than 300,000 children have been diagnosed with asthma in New York City alone due to heating oils used in buildings.  Oil no.4 and oil no.6 are popular types of heating oils used to create harmful emissions that contribute to global climate change. A large volume of uncollected waste is another contributor to multiple health hazards, which is not treated properly due to the lack of city resources.  The process becomes increasingly cyclical where no solution is reached due to lack of action.

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Unhealthy Living Conditions

Half of today’s global population already lives in urban cities and without fully being aware, our health is paying the price of the impact of urban environments. Water pollution alone results in poorer quality of living within a community because of basic needs such as consumption and sanitation. Water contamination also decreases soil’s ability to produce nourishing elements, kills off fish, unsafe for the eco-system and is extremely harmful to human health.

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Additionally, as environmental damage increases so does the likelihood of floods and other natural disasters. The people who are affected first and foremost are the homeless and those without shelter. In result they turn to whichever urban structure they can find to create shelter. VoicesOfYouth.org says, “consequences of environmental deterioration, whether they be economical, social, or related to metal or physical wellbeing, are experienced” are expected results.

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Our Part

We as a community are not always properly educated on how to take care of ourselves or the environment around us. Disposing waste on the streets, and lacking sanitation practices that result in poor hygiene is done without much regard for the impact it has environmentally. However, there are ways in which, we as community can become a resource for help.

PovertyUSA encourages teachers, community members, church and service group leaders to initiate meaningful discussions about poverty, the environment, and how we can come to reach a solution. These discussions should be designed to help others “understand the size and scope of the problem but also start thinking about the ways in which they can take action to help create awareness…”in their communities.

There are so many ways we can get involved to improve the environment in our overcrowded cities—from activating greener spaces for recreation and outdoor activities to developing affordable mixed-use neighborhoods, the possibilities are endless. It simply starts with us taking initiative.