Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Rubbish From A to Z
In this series of blogs, we’re going to look at rubbish. From the good to the bad and downright ugly, we’ll be looking at everything you ever wanted to know, from A right down to Z.
G is for Generation
Even though as a nation we have a plethora of wheelie bins, litter bins, recycling bins, sacks, and boxes, a shocking amount of litter still ends up on our streets, in our parks, on our beaches, and at our beauty spots.
Our councils spend hundreds of millions of pounds clearing up litter each year and its money that could be far better spent, considering budgets are under so much strain.
So what’s the answer? The solutions that most anti-litter campaigns focus on are enforcement and education.
But education around litter shouldn’t just be about increasing awareness among adults, it should focus on children too. After all, they are the future generation that is going to be left with the legacy of what is happening to our planet now. It’s more important than ever that we teach children about environmental issues and encourage them to think about the consequences of their actions and inactions.
Why we should teach children about litter
- It will teach them to think before they throw things away
- It will teach them to be responsible citizens
- It will build good habits that last a lifetime. A child who grows up in a house where food is not wasted, recycling is the norm, and walking and cycling are the preferred modes of transport are likely to grow into an adult who carries on these good habits.
- It will teach them the value of materials and resources
- It will encourage them to share their knowledge about litter with their friends and they might just follow suit
How can you teach children about litter?
Have a discussion with them
Discuss how litter looks terrible and how it spoils our streets, beaches, parks, and countryside
Talk about how rubbish can harm animals, especially if it finds its way into rivers, streams, and the ocean
Ask their opinions on the litter they might see on their way to school. Do they think it makes the streets look untidy? Who do they think drops it?
Ask them why they think people drop litter
Ask them searching questions, like if they were out and couldn’t find a bin, what would they do?
Get them involved in a local litter pick
There are plenty of organised litter picks that children are welcome to join, but if you can’t find a suitable one in your area, you can organise your own and spend a weekend morning or afternoon picking up litter in a local park or beauty spot. (Remember to make sure they wear gloves and don’t pick up anything sharp or potentially hazardous).
Hold a litter pick in your garden
Your garden should be a safe and fun haven for the kids, though unfortunately, litter that’s been carelessly discarded can make it into our hedges and onto our lawns at times. Why not spend a little bit of time on a weekend morning or afternoon picking litter in your garden with the kids? They might roll their eyes so promise there’s a treat in it for them.
It can also be fun to clean up anything reusable or recyclable that you find and spend some time doing a little crafty project with it. Plastic bottle sculpture, anyone?
Have a litter quiz
Children love games and quizzes and most will have experienced them at school. Google some litter facts for kids and offer a prize to whoever gets the most questions correct. Stuck for questions? Why not try some of these for size?
Q) How much can someone be fined for dropping litter in the street?
A) At least £75!
Q) How much of the litter on our streets do you think is food litter, like take away wrappers and fast-food cartons?
a) 5 out of 10 pieces?
b) 7 out of 10 pieces?
c) 9 out of 10 pieces?
(The answer is b)
Q) True or false?
Rats, foxes, pigeons, and seagulls are all getting larger because they eat the fast-food waste that we throw away.
Be a good role model
If children see us doing what we can to reduce waste, dispose of litter responsibly, pick litter up even if it doesn’t belong to us, and recycle as much as we can, they are more likely to notice and follow suit. Hopefully, they’ll continue these good habits as they get older.
When it comes to litter, prevention is better than cure, and teaching future generations about its impact on the planet is crucial if we are to stem the tide of rubbish that’s threatening its very survival.