Littering Behavior & Education
Litter is a global environmental problem and we have a shared responsibility to address it. One organization doing its part to raise worldwide awareness and engagement is the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE).
FEE has set up a number of stimulating educational programs to educate, inspire and encourage people – particularly youth and children – to learn more about how to help protect the environment. One such initiative is the Litter Less Campaign, which is a project run in two of the FEE programs – the Eco-Schools program and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE). Litter Less aims to raise awareness about littering by empowering young people to make a change.
IN asked Anna Normann, Project Manager at FEE, why initiatives like the Litter Less Campaign are so important for the next generation:
What is the ethos behind Litter Less?
Litter is often a neglected area when working with environmental issues. People think that it’s not as urgent, but it is. It is also an ideal area to engage young people and students because of the instant results they see. If one picks up a discarded can on the street and puts it into a trash can, for example, they can immediately see the change they’ve made. One less can on the street means one less piece of litter – it’s a small, but substantial step.
What role is the campaign playing in changing behaviors of young people today?
The Litter Less Campaign follows a seven-step methodology similar to what we use across all our Eco-Schools. One of the seven steps is to set up an eco-committee – of which 50 percent is made up of students, the rest being management and teachers. The eco-committees access the sustainability situation, select a theme, set achievable annual goals, assess and disseminate the work and finally, produce a report indicating the results. This approach allows them to develop skills that focus their attention on a solution that is realistic and good for the environment.
What has been the response from students?
Extremely good! Around the world we see fantastic work going on and it’s gratifying to see students discover a reason to make a change.
What tangible results have you seen?
We’ve seen schools install composts, measure and monitor litter in their schools and the surrounding area, and implement recycling schemes. Most of all, however, we see young people empowered. This academic year we’ve already received 600 reports, which are all available on our website. In the coming three years, we will also be implementing a new service in Eco-Schools that helps them monitor their results and improve reporting. We’re also teaming up with universities to improve measurement.
What is the most satisfying part of working with students?
For me, to see students engaged and passionate about this issue is great. You see their empowerment and self-confidence grow tremendously, and it’s wonderful to see the work they are doing. My only concern is that as they become adults they will lose interest in the litter abatement issue, but that’s why programs like ours exist; to form life-long habits that will help protect the environment.
So the next time you see a piece of litter in the street, do your part to help. We should all feel empowered to make a difference.