Tag Archives: teaching kids about littering

Trash Pick Up With the Neighborhood Kids: Explaining Cigarette Butts & Natty Light Cans

Something about Earth Week this year got me really motivated.  Motivated enough to coordinate a trash pick up in our neighborhood.   This was a last minute effort and a group email went out to the moms and dads on my street the next streets over.  My only caveat was that the children must be instructed to listen to me to keep everyone safe.   Somehow this effort resulted in me (the only adult) shepherding small children & older elementary school aged children through the streets, barking at them to put down broken glass and stop picking up cigarette butts or we’d never finish.   After what I like to call Phase One (Wednesday) and Phase Two (Friday) of trash pick up , we made a list of the most disgusting items we picked up (with gloves), which included:

1.  Plastic bags of dog poop an inconsiderate dog owner left in the bushes  (this happened during Phase One and Phase Two)

2.  An old Q-Tip and an old toothbrush

3.  A stash of an empty case of Natural Light (Natty Light, I sagely told the kids) abandoned in the woods by a group of what we guessed, teenagers- and found by an over-eager first grader who later found himself caught in a pricker bush.

4.  A few Gatorade bottles with tobacco juice

5.  A lace pair of women’s panties.  Not found in the woods.  Found outside someone’s driveway.

Phase One and Phase Two of Operation Trash Pick Up had some teachable moments:  “Obviously, people throwing cigarette butts out their car windows (on a busy cut through street near our house) don’t. respect. our. town.”  (Kids:  “YEAH! THEY HATE OUR TOWN!”)  “What kind of person doesn’t pick up after their dog?  I wonder how they’d feel seeing a first grader picking up this old bag of poop?!”  Kids: (YEAH!  It’s disgusting!”) 

I didn’t really know how to explain the underwear.  (“It must have dropped from someone’s laundry basket.”)


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