Litter isn’t cool.
The biggest impact we can make is to prevent litter in the first place. Sounds simple, but how? If Woodsy Owl couldn’t do it, what chance do we have? Fortunately, we have a tool that Woodsy never had; We have the internet and social media in particular. I think the most effective way to stem the tide of litter is to have continuous conversation about the problem via social media so we can communicate to our friends and neighbors that there is a cost and an impact of litter, and more importantly that littering is not “cool”. I’ve watched people eating lunch in their car at one of our local state parks finish their lunch, drop the Burger King bag out the window, and drive off. All this while less thank 50 feet away from a dumpster. Amazing.
Awareness is our tool.
So, hard press on social media, get in their face, shame them into compliance, right. No. I am a firm believer that consistent, gentle messages make the most impact. What does that mean?
- If you are out and about, whether in nature or in the grocery store parking lot and see litter, whip out the smartphone and click a picture of it. A before and an after photo would be even better!
- Pick up the litter and recycle/dispose of it. This shows those around you that you care enough to do something about litter and helps them become aware of the issue.
- Post the picture (tag the location if you wish) on our Facebook page. (https://www.facebook.com/DontTrashNature) This helps build awareness to your facebook friends as well as those who follow DontTrashNature, helping expand the word to more and more people. This will also help to keep everyone motivated to know that there are numerous people attacking this issue all at once.
None of us like picking up other people’s stuff.
Some might argue that this just encourages people to keep littering, because somebody is picking up after them. I believe that instead it gives us multiple opportunities to have conversations regarding the issue (Why are you picking that up?) and to lead by example (Seeing somebody pick up trash makes it harder for somebody else to walk by those things that they see.)
Just this week my daughter and I were picking up some litter at a local state park. One of the little fishing coves was just FULL of trash. The couple that was fishing there had a number of styrofoam containers and cups already laying about. I cleaned the rest of the area up and the lady made the comment that “People might throw stuff away if there were trash cans here.” I didn’t point out that there were dumpsters right up the road, didn’t tell them that people needed to pick it up anyway, I simply said that “I hear ya, does make it kind of nasty here”, smiled, and continued on my way. No confrontation, no pressure. A couple of hours later I went back by that area and there was not a speck of their stuff still there, it was all taken back out with them. Success. Social pressure has that power. People have that power.
Other avenues to conquer litter.
As we grow, we would love to encourage groups of all kinds to maybe adopt a parking lot, a block, or a state park. It would be a great opportunity to get out and enjoy your habitat while helping nature and raising awareness and social pressure against litter.
It is also our plan to create bumper stickers, cards you can hand out, DontTrashNature bags to keep with you (made out of recycled plastic bottles) and help spread the movement. Let us know what else might be helpful.
Thank you for being a Steward.
Thank you for Teaching.
Thank you for Leading.
Thank you for Making a Difference.