Considering that £342 million a year is spent on litter clearing and street cleaning in England it is paramount that we educate our children on the importance of reducing litter and waste from an early age.
Making Your Children Aware
School-age children will undoubtedly be aware of litter control through playground ‘litter patrols’ and rubbish clearing, but the importance of ‘Keeping Britain Tidy’ should be a lesson that is taught even before their first days in reception class. Pre-schoolers and very young children can be educated about not leaving rubbish behind and throwing things away responsibly – and of course, most toddlers relish the ‘responsibility’ of being given ‘grown up’ tasks to carry out!
Get Them Involved
A good way to start a conversation about the importance of reducing litter is on dustbin day. Small children are usually completely fascinated by the weekly arrival of the dustbin-men, so bin day can be a fantastic opportunity to start talking about litter and waste control.
Ask Their Opinions
Ask your children about the waste and rubbish they spot in the park or in your street. How do they feel about it? Do they think it spoils the neighbourhood? Why is there? Who drops it? By asking leading questions you can open up a whole dialogue about the problems caused by ‘litter-bugs’ and rubbish polluting our streets.
Why is Litter so Bad?
Apart from looking awful and spoiling our streets, beaches and countryside, children need to understand the damage litter can do to wildlife and the environment, for instance, rubbish thrown into rivers and streams can kill swans and ducks and pollute the water for fish and other animals.
Who is to Blame?
The campaign group Keep Britain Tidy found from a recent survey that fast food scoffers, chewing gum chompers and cigarette smokers are mainly to blame for the litter that is on our streets. Ask your children how they think this problem can be remedied – what would they do if there wasn’t a bin around for them to put their food rubbish in, for example?
Get your children involved in litter picking projects in your local area. Most environmental and wildlife groups are positively crying out for weekend volunteers to help clear beauty spots and open spaces of litter and rubbish.
Did You Know?
Quiz your children about their litter know how – gen up on the litter based facts below and set a quiz according to your kids’ age – for each question they get wrong, send them on a litter pick around your back garden!
- New laws mean litter bugs can be fined at least £75 for dropping anything in the street, including chewing gum.
- It’s thought that seven out of 10 pieces of litter on our streets is food-related.
- Rat, fox, pigeons and gull populations are all getting bigger because of fast-food waste.
- Beach visitors are huge litter bugs, dropping 37% more fast food wrappers and 17% more plastic bags than anyone else!
Make Litter Picking Fun – and Safe!
Obviously, great care should be taken when clearing and picking litter; gloves should be worn and sensible precautions should be taken, however, it needn’t be a boring, dirty business! A beach or garden litter pick could also spawn a fun craft project, with clean ‘finds’ turned into arty sculptures and ‘makes’.
What Else Can We Do?
Educate and encourage. The simplest thing we and our children can do to reduce litter is to reduce waste and make sure whatever waste we do produce is disposed of responsibly in a dustbin or re-cycling provision.