We’ve all heard and seen campaigns to stop littering. But they’re not working. So now it’s time to try a different strategy.
School playing fields, streets, parks, beaches, reserves, mountains, gardens, the ocean… The list goes on. Litter is everywhere. Years of advertising and education hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference: people are still littering. And the problem is as bad as ever.
Anti-litter campaigners are always looking for someone to blame, like they’re trying to catch the litterer in the act of dropping rubbish. Is it the fault of fast food outlets? After all, much of the rubbish you’ll find blowing about in the wind is wrappers and boxes for pizzas and burgers. Is it the fault of fizzy drinks companies? There’s a lot of energy drink and cola cans, or bottles for water. What about chocolate companies, or newspapers?
Is the fault of the councils or land owners not providing enough rubbish bins or recycling facilities? Or the councils for charging too much for refuse sacks?
No. The fault lies entirely with the people who don’t dispose of litter correctly.
But television advertising doesn’t work. People still litter. Posters and leaflets don’t work. People still litter (and the leaflets just add to the amount of litter anyway). School rules don’t work. There’s still litter on playgrounds and sports fields. Fines and penalties don’t work. Who knows anyone who’s had to pay a fine for littering? Showing pictures of animals, fish and birds who’ve been maimed by litter hasn’t had any effect either.
So what can be done? We will never stop the littering, so instead let’s change the litter. Here’s a few suggestions:
1) Companies must be forced by law to make all packaging biodegradable – in other words, when it is thrown in the landfill it’ll eventually rot away and leave no traces of nasty chemicals.
2) It must be illegal for supermarkets to use plastic bags – instead all customers must provide their own bags or use large, strong supermarket paper bags (and be charged $1for each one)
3) Schools should ban packaged food on their premises to eliminate rubbish. Instead, packed lunch should be in a box with food with no wrapping and items sold in tuck-shops and canteens must be wrapping-free.
If people want to litter, then no campaign will stop them. People litter because they don’t care about the environment, don’t care about how things look, are too lazy to put something in the bin. If we’re serious about cleaning-up our schools, streets, country then it’s time to take drastic action and tackle the things – like packaging and waste – that make up the litter.
It will be expensive. It will add to the cost of food and other items. Some people will struggle to afford it. But can you really put a cost on saving our environment?
Article written by Ben Egerton
[colored_box color=”green”]This is an opinion-based article designed to provoke debate, discussion and further inquiry
amongst your students:[/colored_box]
[colored_box color=”yellow”]Critical Thinking Challenges:
1) Can you put a cost on saving or looking after your environment?
2) Is it fair that everyone – rich and poor – has to pay because people litter?
3) ‘Anti-littering campaigns don’t work?’ Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
[colored_box color=”green”]Practical Tasks:
1) How realistic is it to expect people to stop littering in your school? What could you do to ensure that litter is kept to a minimum in your school’s playground or sports fields?
2) Everyday for a week collect the rubbish from your school’s premises. Sort and categorise the rubbish. What wrappers, cans and bottles do you have most of? If you know where the rubbish comes from, how can you use that to set up strategies to reduce litter?
[colored_box color=”red”]Have Your Say: