Last week, Kat and I were returning from a trip to the park, when she saw someone reach their hand out of their car and drop a cup out of the window. As the cup bounced along the street, Kat pointed at them and indignantly asked, "Mom! Why did they do that? Don't they know that's littering? Don't they know that it will hurt the animals if they try to eat that?"
We've talked about littering from quite a young age. From the first time she ever dropped a piece of garbage on the ground, I've tried to instill a consciousness about how we affect the world around us. Indeed, she now scolds me for it more often than I do her. If a stray gum wrapper falls out of my purse, I'd better go and get it, or she will lecture me about how animals might think it's food and eat it.
As she's grown older, this awareness has moved beyond just talking about littering, to actually doing something about it. We've gone on walks around our neighborhood several times with trash bags to collect litter. We'll have one bag for regular trash, and one for recyclables. When we get home, we congratulate ourselves on helping to keep our community clean, and the animals safe.
So, as we were walking home from the park that day, Kat was trying to figure out how to stop people from littering. I told her that people aren't doing it out of malice, they're just not thinking about it, they have other things on their mind. After mulling this over, Kat came up with a brilliant solution to this problem. We should tell them! Let's make signs asking people not to litter, and put them around the neighborhood and at the park!
We brainstormed slogans to put on our signs. We didn't want to yell at people for littering, we wanted to make this a positive thing, a community thing. Kat came up with the first slogan, and it was brilliant.
My husband joined in with our project and came up with the second slogan! Once again, we have a positive message for our community:
Kat and I have been so excited about this project, we've been telling everyone about it! The wonderful people at our local Teaching Stuff supply store even gave us some twine to use to hang one of the signs around a tree at the park! When the day came to hang them up, we had all of the supplies and space that we needed to make a positive impact on our community.
As we placed our sign on the fence at the stop sign, we could see people doing double takes as they read it. I came out later in the afternoon and saw people smiling as they drove away.
When we placed our sign at the park, the kids there were so curious as to what we were doing, that they gathered around to help us. They asked questions about litter, and then asked questions about how they could help. They even sweetly vowed to protect our sign if anyone should want to tear it down. As we left the park, we saw kids picking up litter and racing to the garbage cans.
I'm really proud of Kat for taking this problem, thinking of ways to solve it, and following through with her great idea. It's great to see that she has some of the tools to think about and work with the world around her.
And the best part? I think Kat's idea is working. :)