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How often do we tell our children, or hear other people tell their children not to touch rubbish on the ground?
If you weren't the most well behaved student through school, you will probably remember being on many lunchtime rubbish duties.
Just in these two above examples, we can see how picking up rubbish that isn't our own has become something we associate negative feelings with, we know it's dirty and covered in germs and we feel like it's a chore or a punishment to pick it up.
But what happens when we walk past rubbish on the street or in the park and don't pick it up to dispose of it correctly?...
If it isn't eaten by on-land wildlife, it eventually ends up finding its way into storm water drains, and into our oceans. Over time the plastic breaks down into tiny pieces called micro-plastics and are eaten by all kinds of sea animals. They make their way through the food chain getting more and more toxic.When we sit down to eat our dinner, the toxins are then passed onto us.
Image from Surfrider foundation
So, what is more 'yuck'? Picking up a piece of dirty rubbish and disposing of it correctly and then washing our hands of any germs? Or sitting down to your dinner and ingesting harmful toxins from fish that have eaten that piece of trash?
If we start changing the way talk to our children about picking up rubbish, we can create a future generation of people who understand the importance of stopping rubbish from getting into our oceans in the first place.
How to make it simple and get started
- Carry a small fold-up bag in your pocket so that you can place rubbish straight into it and dispose of it correctly when you get home. (The last thing you want to do is be holding onto a piece of dirty rubbish for an hour because you haven't found a bin to put it in.
- Carry an organic hand sanitiser (without petrochemicals), in your bag as a quick fix for any germs.
- Create a game with your children and reward them for collecting rubbish. This will change their feelings about rubbish and help them to understand that they're doing a great thing for our oceans.
*For safety reasons, remember to always remind children to ask for an adults permission before picking up unknown rubbish from the ground.
What you can do
Say 'NO' to wasteful packaging, plastic bags and bottled water. Don't let them end up in our environment and waterways!
Reject or cut back on these bad-for-the-environment items: over-packaged products, non-recyclable packaging, plastic bags and bottled water when tap water is available.