Education should be characterised by a positive belief in the future and give all children the opportunity to acquire an ecological and caring approach to their surrounding environment and to nature and society. Education should give children an understanding of how people, nature and society affect each other, and also of how different choices people make in everyday life can contribute to sustainable development. To put litter into the curreclicum will give children the opportunity to learn about the environment and the role they can play in improving it. I believe that a concrete and important environmental issue such as littering is a good pedagogical starting point in learning for sustainable development. Educating students about the effects of litter and influencing attitudes are key steps towards behaviour change and litter reduction in the community as a whole.
Littering is not a small problem!
Littering is a huge environmental threat one can witness in all urban areas. Streets, sidewalks, parking lots, roads and highways are mostly covered with food wrappers, soft drink and water bottles, plastic bags, handbills, cigarette butts, tissues, papers etc. Litter affects the environment negatively and the major impacts involve the danger to public health,endangering, or killing wildlife and serious damage to waterways, oceans and marine life. Based on recent data, 7 billion tons of debris enter the world’s oceans annually and most of it is long-lasting plastic. Litter also has an impact on the economy, The Clean Europe Network estimates that the total cost of cleaning up litter on the land throughout the EU is somewhere in the range of €10-13 billion.
Education is one of the most effective tools when it comes to shaping the future.
Our youngest generation are the future, so it is extremely important that we encourage good habits in children from a young age. It is essential that we educate our children on the importance of reducing litter and waste. Preschoolers and very young children can be educated about not leaving rubbish behind and throwing things away responsibly – and of course, most toddlers will love the ‘responsibility’ of being given ‘grown up’ tasks to carry out!
What can we do?
- Set up a Clean School or Preschool program at your school or preschool together with the students, to change the littering behaviour in the school.
- Children can be encouraged to create posters which they can put up around school or preschool also in corridors, classrooms,staff rooms and in the local community. The posters could encourage everybody to dispose of their litter correctly.
- You can let the children come up with their own litter slogans.
- Raise public awareness regarding litter, by letting the students making a ”This is a Litter Free Zone” sign to be displayed outside the school.
- Plan litter picking activities in and outside of your School-Preschool frequently.
- Have recycling bins in every room, including staff rooms, kitchen and also outside on the yard. Recycling introduce students to the three environmental R’s recycle, reuse and reduce and also to a circular economy. Label recycling and waste bins clearly to avoid the waste getting mixed up. The students can help to make labels to the bins.
- Let all students become Litter-free Ambassadors to take the message home to their siblings, parents and grandparents.
- Initiate programmes like” Adopt a place, a park or street” in the neighbourhood and the staff and the students can spend some compulsory hours every week doing community work to clean up the area.
- Integrate conversations about the environment into everyday lessons.
- Make sure your school-preschool has completed a Risk Assessment and a Risk Assessment Form. The Risk Assessment is to make sure the health, safety and welfare of the students has been considered and that all reasonable precautions and controls are in place to a litter pick up activity.
Litter is a topic that addresses a real world issue!
Keeping their schools-preschools and neighbourhood litter-free is an easy and fun way for students to work together, a hands on experience that teaches them responsibility skills and gives a respect for the environment and the world around them. It also encourages children to take pride in their school and neighbourhood.
All children deserve a future without litter!