The Education Zone is currently under construction. While it’s taking shape, here are a few thoughts about the vital issue of how to get the next generation on board with an anti-litter message … which should not be done at a school assembly. Students are talked at all the time and I have it on good authority that assemblies are when many tend to switch off! Instead, students (or scouts or church group members) should be talked to. In particular, I would like to see them encouraged to critically think through the problem of littering with the following questions:

What problems do students think littering causes?

The issue of littering is more than simply aesthetic. It can kill wildlife (on land and sea), cause flooding, impact transportation, and even lower property values. Recyclables that are littered instead of being recycled are a waste of resources. Encouraging them to connect cause with effect and think widely about the topic is one way to begin a deeper dive into the subject of waste.

Why do students think people litter?

There is no right or wrong answer to this! It would be great to see what their thoughts are. My own opinions regarding this question can be read here.

What can be done to stop people from littering?

There are a few important parts of this question to keep in mind. The first is that diverse answers must be encouraged that focus on how to get people to use a bin or take their rubbish home (i.e. “more litter picks” would not be an appropriate answer).

Second, if time/money allows, some of the answers should be trialled in real life at the school or in the surrounding area. Not only does this help empower students to realise that they can find potential solutions to real-world problems, it also introduces them to the scientific method because it allows them to collect data about their hypothesis and measure the impact.

What will students do to help fight litter?

Again, there is no right or wrong answer to this, but it would be great to encourage them to think about how to dispose of rubbish while out and about, and to pick up what they safely can.

How will students get their family involved?

Encouraging students to bring home the anti-litter message to parents, siblings, and other family members is necessary to amplify the message beyond the school environment.