Battling Litter with Empowerment
KAB’s Visible Litter Survey estimates that 85 percent of littering is the result of individual attitudes, meaning people are often choosing to litter. It also showed that individuals under the age of 30 are far more likely to litter than those who are older.
Several partnership programs in California are working toward solutions that can effect long term change by encouraging the local youth to develop healthy habits and attitudes about trash.
The Effie Yeaw Nature Center (EYNC), a 77 acre nature preserve in Carmichael, California offers guided tours, programs and exhibits to between 15-20,000 school kids per year in addition to about 70,000 families and adults. By educating their visitors, in particular children, they are working to instill good habits and attitudes about taking care of nature.
“We try to focus on stewardship,” said Paul Tebbel, PR Director for EYNC. “When given the full story, kids get it.”
Using the center’s proximity to the lower American River, the EYNC guides are able to easily illustrate the impact litter and pollutants have and how both humans and wildlife are affected.
“We’re able to explain to the kids that we like to use the river and the salmon like to use it,” said Tebbler. “What we do can negatively impact the river and the all the beings that depend on it. If you pollute it, you take away their home – not just our home.”
This year, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) partnered with Effie Yeaw to help emphasize the importance of recycling and preservation and has helped the program by donating recycling bins to the area. The three new bins and three more to come are made from recycled material and have simple messaging on them about the benefits of recycling to help drive the point home.
In 2009, ACC partnered with LA’s BEST, an after-school program in Los Angeles, to create the Go H2O! Challenge. The goal of the challenge is to encourage healthy habits for recycling and waste reduction among the 30,000 elementary school students involved in the program.
ACC donated reusable water bottles to all participants to encourage kids to think about ways to reduce, reuse and recycle more of the materials they use every day.
“It has been great for all of us to see children really think about their own habits,” said Catherine Stringer, Vice President LA’s BEST. “Both at school and at home.”
In Southern California, another popular program features an annual recycling competition for youth soccer players sponsored by Keep California Beautiful, Dick’s Sporting Goods, the ACC and the LA Galaxy. Going three years strong, Recycle.Goal challenges youth soccer players to increase their recycling efforts and rewards them for participating.
During the last competition, more than 500 young athletes on two dozen teams collected and recycled more than 26,000 pounds of materials.
The goal of these programs and others like them is to bring multiple stakeholders together and create a strong base of community investment in educating kids to reduce, reuse and recycle.
“Recycling is one of the easiest steps we can all take to protect our environment and help prevent litter,” said Christine L. Flowers, Director of Keep California Beautiful.”
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. The American Chemistry Council is one of these partners.