Jed - Our Little Litter Picker: Fun ways to get kids involved in cleaning their local environment
There's never been a better time to get your kids learning about the natural world and how to take care of it. Involving them in litter picking is a good start. Picking up litter is a fun, simple, and free activity that can have instant results for your child and your community. Anyone who enjoys a pristine neighbourhood, park, beach, or public walkway can easily take part just by removing waste materials.
A huge problem is the amount of plastic flowing through our waterways and out to the ocean. This is a simple activity that can show them the importance of keeping the natural environment as clean as possible. They'll also be able to see exactly what they've achieved when they finish, as the area where they've been litter picking will be spick and span.
Choose a favourite scenic route
We often take bike rides to the Varsity Lakes Wetland Reserve where we love to explore and play.
Walking and riding through nature is a great family activity as well as being fun, it keeps children active and teaches them the importance of the natural world.
While enjoying the beautiful environment we noticed a lot of plastic waste and unwanted items washed up laying around the edges of the ponds. Jed decide he wanted to do something about this.
He asked if we could get a rubbish grabber and a bag to pick up the discarded items so we can start saving our environment and keep our local bushland looking pristine. We managed to find a grabbing tool at our local op-shop which was a bonus! Armed with our sack and grabber we were set and ready to go.
Teach your kids the importance of recycling
Picking up litter is great, but it's also important that children understand the importance of what materials can be recycled. Steel, aluminium, paper, plastic and glass are all commonly found items that have been discarded. These materials can all be taken to your local waste transfer centre for processing, most of them can be placed in your own recycling bin at home. (please check with your local council about what items can be placed in your recycling bin)
City of the Gold Coast - Recyclepedia, Waste and recycling services
It's important we raise our little ones with an understanding of the natural world, and how they can help protect it. Learning about recycling and how they can be more eco-conscious in how they deal with waste is a great thing for them to be introduced to while they're young. Teach your children about the different types of bins that you have, and how litter and recycling are split up. This way, when you come to do the litter pick they will recognise why certain types of litter have to be sorted separately.
This is how much rubbish we collected in around 30 minutes, here's a list of the trash removed from the wetland.
2x chip bags
Black garden plastic
5x tent poles
Plastic baby food pouch
7x bottle lids
Broken glass bottle
3 pieces of polystyrene foam
Plastic drink cup
2x drink bottles
Learn while playing
Island Saver is a great computer game that your kids will love that highlights the importance of keeping your environment waste free. Jed and I stumbled across this game one day looking for something to play that wasn't the same old thing and kid friendly.
What to take on your litter pick
Plastic bag to collect trash
Gloves - especially important as we practice Covid-19 safety measures
Optional: pick-up stick, a separate bag for recyclables
Assign gloves to each member. pick a trash bag or grabber.
Clear out litter from a section of park, beach, vacant lot, or your own neighbourhood. Take all necessary precautions, including wearing sturdy gloves, being careful on river banks or near roads, having adults handle dangerous items, and supervising children closely. You can pick your favourite walk and do a one-time sweep, or make clean-up a regular family event.
Properly dispose of all litter.
Did you find a lot of litter? What kind of litter did you see most often? What could be done to help with that problem?
Why is it important to pick up litter?
How do you feel when you see litter?
How can you inspire others to help keep the neighbourhood clean?
What other ways can we take care of the spaces where we live?
Organise a community litter pick
If you are frustrated by the litter in your local area, you might like to organise a litter pick to clear the area of rubbish and return it to its natural state.
Choose a location
Choosing a spot won’t be hard; the reason you want to organise a litter pick is probably that you keep walking, cycling or driving past an area that is inundated with rubbish.
It could be a residential street, some bushland, a footpath, farmland, or a town centre.
Contact the landowners
You will need to gain permission to litter pick as a group on private or public land.
How you go about this will vary depending on where you want to litter pick; you might need to contact the local council, body corporate, a farmer or a local estate owner, for example.
Carry out a risk assessment
Injuries and incidents can occur when groups (or individuals) are litter picking, so you should carry out a risk assessment to reduce any potential risk to participants.
The LitterAction website have created a great template for this type of risk assessment.
Gather your equipment and decide on a date
Bags/sacks, heavy-duty work gloves, sturdy footwear, a grabber tool and sometimes hi-vis vests are some of the items required.
Choose a date for your litter pick — we’d recommend a weekend day to maximise your volunteer numbers.
Consider setting a theme to make the event more enticing to potential volunteers or run a competition on the day, with the winner being the person who can collect the most litter in a set amount of time.
Small things can bring big change
What begins as a simple exercise can quickly turn into something more powerful. It’s never too soon to instil a sense of responsibility in our young people and remind them that it is up to all of us to take charge of our own future.
Now that our daughter Chloe is old enough to come along on our rides, watching Jed and her get excited about exploring the bush, cleaning up and stopping to ask questions is so rewarding. Finding and picking up rubbish is an added bonus.
Weather we pick up a little or a lot, it all helps to keep the natural environment clean and our planet healthy. Thumbs up to those doing what they can to help this cause!
Another great initiative is plastic free July
Read our blog to learn more - Going Plastic Free
Be the change you want to see in the world
Take part in a global movement that helps millions of people be a part of the solution to plastic pollution. A great way to find out more is to visit https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/ or Surfrider Foundation Australia. My Baby Organics Australia is proud to a part of the Surfrider family. See our Surfrider Blog for details.