I recently came across a Reddit thread discussing what to do when you witness someone in the act of littering. Answers varied from confrontation to civilly turning your head to it, but the comment that made me laugh out loud (in my head, of course) was, "Scream Litterbug at the top of your lungs while pointing at them then pull out a can of RAID and empty it right in their face."
While that's definitely an option, I'm more of a non-confrontational gal myself. So if you, like me, prefer not to call out the slob that left the half-filled coffee cup on the park bench, here are some thoughtful alternatives.
Join a neighborhood clean-up
Once a year my neighborhood organizes a community clean-up. Those with trucks or trailers haul away anything that needs taken to the dump, the rest of us walk around picking up trash on the sidewalks and in the gutters and street, and we end it all with a BBQ. Simple as that, but it's fun and effective. If you'd like to organize this where you live, put a notice up on your neighborhood Facebook page. (And if you don't have a neighborhood Facebook page, start one!) And of course, we're always hosting local clean-ups! Visit our page for where we're organizing next.
Always carry a trash bag in your car or purse
I've recently begun keeping several knotted grocery bags in my purse. They usually end up being used for a quick car trash roundup, but they're helpful for wrangling garbage in any situation. Let's be honest, plastic grocery bags aren't a popular item these days, but sometimes you have them and, when you do, be sure to offset their nasty little footprint by putting them to good use.
Turn a hike into a treasure (trash) hunt
My dad has been a frequent hiker my whole life and his example of picking up trash along the trail is something that influenced me from a young age. He often will hike with an empty grocery bag but if he forgets that, he'll stash any litter he finds in his pocket. When my kids hike with him, he'll often turn it into a competition i.e. whoever finds the most litter gets a dollar, or each piece of trash is worth a nickel. My kids eat it up. (The competition, not the garbage.)
Set a family goal
Chances are we've all walked past some litter this week and not picked it up. Some extra motivation is necessary from time to time. Try setting a family goal for litter collection. It could be that everyone picks up at least one piece a day. Or it could be ten pieces a day! Whatever it is, the point is being better at it than you were before. And when everyone accomplishes their goal for the week, definitely celebrate with ice cream.
How do you deal with litter? Give us your best tips!