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Our Earth Day Litter Tradition (and a Challenge for You)

The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship:

Earth Day is on April 22nd, and although we should be taking excellent care of our earthly home every day, Earth Day is a good opportunity to be inspired to do a little something extra and to pass on the good habit to youth around you.

Each year since my son turned two, we’ve taken a trek around the corner and down the hill to pick up litter in our neighborhood. We have a lovely natural area and park close by, but the woods where the deer and fox have been known to run often looks like this in the spring:

source: Katie Kimball

I wish I was kidding when I told you that the large white thing the arrow is pointing to is a 5-gallon plastic bucket. It looked more impressive (and disgusting) in real life!




Can it get any worse? There are a few glass bottles in here too that I just couldn’t see in the photo.

When I stopped to take pictures, my 2-year-old said, “Mommy, who puts all the litter in the woods?”

“Naughty people,” was my best attempt at a developmentally correct answer.

What’s an Earth Lover to Do?

We grab these:

source: Katie Kimball

One or two of these:

source: Katie Kimball

And an extra bag or two for recyclables to fill this up:

source: Katie Kimball

We call our neighbors, now ages 9, 12, and 14, and invite them to come too. (You could do this even if you don’t have kids – just invite anyone you know!) We load everything into a stroller or wagon and take off on a walk.

For as long as our stamina lasts, we dive into the woods and pick up trash. It’s both amazing and disgusting the things we have found; from glass and plastic bottles carelessly tossed out the window, to indoor-outdoor carpeting and lone shoes.

Seriously. How did that all get in the woods?

It feels absolutely amazing to see the impact we can make in just a few hours (and I try not to dwell on the fact that we can only hit about 20% of the woods before it’s time to go home). The best part is that I’m forming a consciousness of “everyone’s responsible” in my children.

Even though this will be my daughter’s first year really participating, she already points out litter and says, “Somebody should pick that up.” It’s a good day when that “somebody” can be us.

What Can You Do?

Do you have junk in your neighborhood that nobody’s really responsible for? Could you find an afternoon to take care of it?

My Challenge For You.

Find something to do this month, in honor of Earth Day, that is beyond your norm. If you have kids, make it a learning and habit-forming experience.

Try to read books about saving the earth with kids, too, if you can find good ones at their developmental level (ask your librarian). No child is too young to learn to care!

For middle elementary and junior high, I have to recommend 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, which I told you last month was one catalyst that helped my “green” side to culture.

Have a lovely month, get outside, and celebrate our care for the earth!

What are you going to do to inspire good conservationist habits in your kids or other young people in your life?

Get ideas and resources at the Earth Day 2011: Billion Acts of Green Campaign.

Katie Kimball is a mom of two who spends a ton of time in the kitchen making real food with whole ingredients and then blogs about her successes and failures at Kitchen Stewardship. She believes everything in life is a gift from God and should be taken care of wisely.