In order to get people to really start to care and make the necessary changes to keep their environments clean sometimes you have to use a little tough love and few firm reminders. Sort of like raising children, we have to make people aware of how their behaviors are negatively impacting those who live with and around them. If you ask your child to clean up after themselves, they usually are resistant and have to be forced to do it. Even if they are not resistant, the next time they make a mess you probably have to give them a reminder to clean up. A reminder is a best-case scenario and there usually is some threat of them losing a privilege, activity or toy if they don’t adhere to the rules.
In order to cure adults of being litterbugs and to set the stage for future generations to grow up with clean communities being the norm, we have to take some serious steps to solve the problem. We have to adjust ways of thinking, shift attitudes, rehabilitate hearts, and inspire action.
The best way to get a person’s attention is to impact two of their favorite things: their time and their money. Adults who have been used to a certain way of life need a little nudge to get them going in the right direction. So what do we need to do?
- Increase fines and penalties for littering.
- Mandatory community service picking up litter for minor crimes instead of jail time.
- Enforce the laws – people should feel the same fear for littering that they do when speeding or running a red light.
- Incorporate lessons on the negative effects of littering in school curriculums.
- Create summer programs that teach about recycling, conservation, and litter prevention.
- Design summer jobs centered around cleaning up neighborhoods, parks and public places.
We all have a part to play when it comes to maintaining and protecting of our environments. No sane person wants to walk out their door and see filth. We might become accustomed to seeing things a certain way because that is what we grew up in, hence the saying” I’m a product of my environment”. But we are in an age of information and opportunity, and when you know better you have responsibility to do better.