Counting Litter Out Clean Communities Teaching Guide All levels modified 1 hour Introduction Litter is an increasing problem here in the Township and in many communities around the world. If you look around, litter is everywhere. Though many people think the problem is only aesthetic (its only ugly), litter is a larger problem. Litter has many effects on the community - socially, environmentally, and economically. This discussion explores litter in the community, its impacts and what each person can do to reduce litter. Note: Sources of information are from Keep It Beautiful America (KBA), the Environmental Protection Agency of Australia (EPA) and the Township of Langley (TOL). What is litter? Litter is garbage that is tossed carelessly into a public space. Garbage is anything that is considered waste - useless or unwanted. Why is litter a problem? People think that litter is ugly and it has no other impact in the community. In fact, litter has many effects to the environment, the health and safety of people and to an area's economy and society. Litter is a great concern that needs to be addressed. Environment Litter can destroy habitat - litter degrades the places where wildlife find food and water, and look for places to live and raise their young Litter is a threat to wildlife - each year thousands of animals strangle or choke from litter Health and safety Litter can be a fire hazard - every 12 minutes a fire starts in litter Litter can be a safety hazard - litter can cause auto and bicycle accidents Litter itself can be dangerous to people and animals - litter can be sharp or contain dangerous chemicals Litter can be a health hazard - litter dirty and can carry diseases; bugs and animals that thrive in litter can carry diseases Economic It costs money to hire people to clean-up litter Litter is ugly - people do not want to live in a place with litter problems; similarly, businesses do not want to establish in areas with litter problems - your community could be losing money! Counting Litter Out - Teaching Guide page 2 Why is litter a problem? continued Social s Litter is offensive - people do not like the sight of litter and this can cause dislike of their community s Litter causes other people to litter and can lead to more problems with litter s People who do not care about litter do not care about other environmental concerns in the community Where does litter come from? Studies show that everybody litters, and there is no "littering type.' Men and women of all ages and social backgrounds have been seen littering. There are several main sources of litter. s Pedestrians who do not use garbage cans s Motorists who do not use car ashtrays or garbage bags s Household Trash scattered before or during collection s Trucks with uncovered loads s Commercial Dumpsters which are improperly covered s Loading Docks with inadequate waste receptacles s Construction and Demolition Sites without tarps and receptacles to contain debris and waste Why do people litter? s People are too lazy to dispose of garbage properly s People are more likely to throw litter on top of litter than drop litter in neat surroundings s People do not care s Litters think other people will pick it up (create jobs) s Some people are not aware they are littering The truth about littering Myth: Some people think fruit cores and peels, or things that decompose are not litter. Fact: Actually, things that are not in the proper environment to decompose (fruit cores and peels should be covered to decompose properly) dry up and litter the area. Myth: Smokers and some people do not think their butts are litter. For many years smokers throwing tossing cigarette butts has been an acceptable behaviour. Fact: Cigarette butts are the most littered items. Some butts are made with plastic filters while others are made of cotton (decomposable). Plastic persists in the environment for along time and these cotton filters are filled with chemicals that are harmful to the environment and do not decompose. Township of Langley Counting Litter Out - Teaching Guide page 3 What can YOU do? People litter - it is an individual behavior that affects every member of the community. Each person must accept responsibility for their actions and influence the actions of others around them in their home, school and community. By being an example proper trash and waste disposal, you will cause others to consider their actions too. s Set an example for others, especially school-mates, friends and family by using garbage cans and NOT littering; Tip: Put your garbage in your bag or pocket until you can use a garbage can s Remind other people to use garbage cans and not litter s Organize your own neighbourhood litter clean-up s Join a local group that educates about or actively cleans-up litter (the Township Adopt-a-Program!) s Carry a garbage bag and portable ashtray in your car s Make sure your garbage cans have lids that can be securely fastened s Make sure parents use twine to secure loose trash for garbage collection Discussion and activities s Discuss with students what litter is, where it comes from and its impact on the community. s Do students think litter is a problem? s Introduce the Litter Count where student explore litter in their community - see Litter Counting page. s Conduct the survey activity s Return to the classroom and analyze the results s Groups or the class can graph the different categories of litter and compare s Students/groups can calculate the amount of garbage that is left in one week, one month and one year s What are the most common types of litter? What does this tell you about people who left the litter?... are they students? s What can be done to get these people to stop littering? s Brainstorm projects or activities to reduce litter with this group(s) of people s Students/groups can design anti-litter posters targeting the littering group - posters can be hung around the classroom or around the school s Students/groups can organize an anti-litter week or campaign at the school, put up posters and get everyone to use garbage cans s Students can make pledges to what they will do to reduce litter and put these on a poster - teachers can follow-up in following weeks to see that students have stuck to their pledges. Township of Langley LITTER COUNTing Teaching Guide page 4 Litter Count The Litter Count is the Township of Langley Adopt-a-Program litter survey. The Program and its volunteers are collecting information about litter in the Township. The information will tell us more about people who litter in the community and this will assist in teaching community members about litter, its impact and why it is important to eliminate litter. Survey sheets In this package you will find two types of forms: s Datasheets (green) for Counters s Summary Form (orange) for the Group Leader/Teacher On the datasheets, the litter is separated into: s Plastic s Foam plastic s Glass, rubber and metal s Paper, wood and cloth Location s Conduct your survey in an area that is both safe and convenient. s The survey length and time is up to your discretion. We suggest you select a specified distance or duration. For example, you may survey for a half kilomenter or for a half hour. s Please remember: For the Litter Count, ACCURACY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ABUNDANCE. Survey s Split students into groups. Each group will be least two people per group. s Each group will consist of: s At least one person to pick up litter and identify what it is s One person to note on the forms the type of litter that is collected Collect s Have each group examine the datasheets so they have an idea of where the different types of litter are located within the datasheets; this will make it easier when counting. s An easy way to keep track of the items you find is by making tick marks. Tally the “Total Number of Items” after the clean-up is over. Summarize s Once the clean-up is over, summarize/tally the individual green datacards on the orange Summary Form. Submit s Return completed forms to the Adopt-a-Street Coordinator via mail at: 4700 224th Street, Langley, BC V2Z 1N4. s Once datasheets are received, the Coordinator will arrange participation gifts.
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