Every morning, I walk the neighborhood for exercise but also as a way to spend time with my son, away from the constant demands of digital devices. We walk, we chat and we pick up garbage on the way. Our eyes are peeled for cigarette butts, plastic lids, chip bags, coffee cups, plastic bottles and all the other stuff people carelessly discard without a single thought as to where the stuff will end up once it leaves their hand. As we are creatures of habit, we are most often walking the same round, and thus are picking up litter from the same streets. And every day I am shocked to have at least one full bag of trash from very residential suburban neighborhood streets. Civilization comes with lots of problems, but the solution to everything is for ALL OF US to make a difference, and it’s easy. It is no skin of our back to combine bending our backs and carrying a bag with our morning exercise. And often enough we get a thumbs up from a passing driver, or a “thank you” from another walker. We know, that our actions can teach others that it is possible to make a difference everyday.
“How does bread interact with water?” that was the question Mamaroneck Avenue School second graders had to answer in a slightly messy, hands-on science experiment. Followed up by “How does plastic interact with water?”.
Learning about organic and inorganic materials and how these interact in the environment with water and wind was the basis for We Future Cycle’s presentation to second graders.
Students learned about the problems related to littering. They learned that plastic does not break down in the environment and lasts forever and effects wild life as it enters the food chain.
Watching a video about how the street litter makes it through our rain water sewer systems into the ocean and just how big the plastic problem is was eye opening to them. Footage of divers swimming through a soup of floating garbage made them collectively groan. And seeing animals dying from ingesting plastic made this problem personal to them.
Each class started a lively discussion on how every student can be the solution to the problem. Each student had brilliant ideas and wrote about them in their daily workbook.
We Future Cycle’s motto is “Creating a generation of kids that care” and these MAS students are an inspiration to all.
This is Davenport Park in New Rochelle NY, a gorgeous park right on the Long Island Sound, and its shores are littered with garbage. This debris is floating in with the tide and then stays behind, unsightly and a danger to marine life.
Whenever we are in any of the beach parks we collect the garbage left behind. Not just to avoid it being taken back into the water by the next tide, but also to make a point to fellow beach goer. Teaching through example is the only way to reach adults.
How does that garbage get there, you might ask? Well, not by people physically throwing it into the water. Instead, all of our streets are connected to the ocean by their rain water sewers. The ocean starts right at your home street. That is because anything and everything that is on the street and gets washed with the rain water into these sewers will absolutely, positively end up in the ocean. There is no filtering system between the street and the ocean.
And this is the result of our carelessness. If the reader thinks the Great Pacific Garbage Patch with its soup of plastics is too far to affect us, think again, it is right here!
With pleasure we received a note from an avid reader of our blog about how our recent blog post about picking up litter on the daily dog walk inspired him to do the same.
Making a difference is all about seeing a problem and doing something about it. We applaud this Young at Heart activist for demonstrating that any age is the right age to pitch in.
Yesterday, I conducted a social experiment.
I wanted to see what kind of reaction I would get from onlookers when I picked up litter while walking the dogs.
First of all, it was mind boggling just how much litter there was in this upscale Westchester suburbian neighborhood. A 30 min walk, covering maybe 1.5 miles produced 3 large bulging shopping bags of trash. From cans, bottles, cigarette boxes, milk cartons, yogurt containers to multitudes of single serve snack bags.
I was flabbergasted by the sheer number of carefully knotted newspaper sleeves with dog poop in it, draped decoratively on the curb, over someones fence or plainly thrown onto the storm sewer drain. What kind of person goes through the process of picking up after his/her dog and then believes to do the right thing by just dumping the bag somewhere?
The amount of litter in the storm drains is a stark reminder that people plainly do not know that the storm sewer goes directly to the ocean without any filtering step. Whatever washes into them will end up on the local beach as wash up. A sobering thought when going bag to the doggie poop bags.
The result of my social experiment was that every single car occupant that passed us turned their head to check out what we were doing and some rolled down their window to thank us. I believe, that the mere fact that they saw us picking up litter may have inspired others.
Being a role model pays off and it is really not hard to do!