When it comes to teaching the importance of rubbish clearance, it is easier if you “catch them when they’re young!” As the old saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” implies, it’s harder to get people who have been littering all their life to change their wayward ways. However, you can relatively easily affect the young impressionable mind of a child with lessons that will stay with them for the rest of their life, especially if you make these lessons fun and truly memorable.
Combine Litter Picking With Special Events
All kids love a birthday party in the park or a camping trip where some of the closest friends get to go along. These are always events that kids remember forever, and what makes them extra special, are the unusual activities you do on the outing. Why not combine rubbish clearance games with all the other festivities?
Send the kids on a nature treasure hunt to find items on a list. These can include things like five acorns, three evergreen needles, a smooth and rounded rock, and a piece of wood containing evidence of a boring insect. Award ten points for each item they find within thirty minutes. Give each child a bag to collect rubbish and award a twenty point bonus to the child who collects the most rubbish! This puts them in touch with nature while also stressing to them the importance of litter picking!
Fun With Maths and Visualisation
Is it a rainy day when litter picking may not be the best option and the kids are getting bored? No problem! Use this opportunity to have the kids have some fun with math and visualization. First, have them fill a bag or more with recycling and pretend this is litter they just picked up from the park. Using a room they are familiar with, such as the family room or their own bedroom, have them place this bag in the room and then figure out how many bags of equal size it would take to fill all the space in the room from floor to ceiling.
Next, explain to them that for every bag of rubbish that Highways England collects from the road, it costs the people £40 (you can explain taxes if they’re old enough). Once they understand this, you can help them calculate how much it would cost the people for Highways England to remove all the rubbish that would fill the room (multiple the number of bags times £40). For the final calculation, you can give them a visualization they will never forget! Explain to them that Highways England removes 200,000 bags of rubbish from the roads in England every single year! To impress upon them just how much trash this is, ask them to figure out how many rooms full of rubbish this is. To do this, divide 200,000 bags by the number of bags that fit into the room. Suppose 200 bags of rubbish would fill the entire space in their bedroom. This would mean that highways England collects 200,000/200 = 1000 rooms full of rubbish per year from the roads of England. Now, ask them to guess how many rooms of rubbish must be removed worldwide!
You can use beans in a jar to show them how to estimate the number of bags it would take to fill the room. Start by counting the rows of beans in the jar. Next, count the number of beans in each row (use a clear bottomed jar). Now, simply multiply these two numbers together to estimate the number of beans in the jar. If you have time, you can have the kids actually count the beans to see how close they come. Just like other rubbish clearance projects, this should be a hands on project so it makes an impression they’ll never forget.
Make a Master List of Rubbish Clearance Methods That Keeps Trash Out of Landfills
Before you begin, explain to the children why it’s important to keep rubbish out of landfills. If you are not already prepared to explain this, that’s okay. You can ask the children to help you google this information and learn together. Next, visit the Clearabee website link at the bottom of the page. This will take you to the Clearabee blog. Here you’ll find many posts from Clearabee that will help you and the children start putting together a list of how to keep rubbish out of landfills. For example, you’ll learn different ways to upcycle your old bike and have less food waste. These articles will be enough to get the kids really thinking and coming up with their own ideas.
Using a magnet, keep the rubbish clearance list on the fridge so that the children will see it as a constant reminder. This will also let them know how proud you are of them for their ideas on the list. Every time they add an item to the list, praise them and encourage them to think of more. You can even suggest that they ask their friends for ideas as this will spread this knowledge even further! Show off the list to company within sight or ear shot of the children to reinforced their efforts even more more and help them understand the importance of what they are doing. They’ll swell with pride as you brag on them to other adults. You can also help them submit the list as an editorial to the local newspaper and or post the list online in social media and or in blogs.