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Should litter awareness be taught as part of the curriculum?

Posted on: Monday, December 22nd, 2014

Teaching children about the importance of cleaning up litter and taking responsibility, is essential if we want to maintain our streets and encourage young people to respect their local environment.

Therefore, it is the role of local authorities, school teachers and parents to ensure that children are encouraged at every opportunity to become aware of the impact that litter has on the society in which they live.

In recent years, a number of local authorities and groups have campaigned for the introduction of new laws tackling littering. 

Littering is incredibly costly for many local authorities, with billions spent each year on cleaning it up.

A report published earlier this month showed that councils across the eurozone spend up to £10 billion each year on clearing litter alone.

Some countries spend millions each year on street cleaning, with Scotland, for example, splashing out £70 million on clearing away litter.

Similarly, a new campaign has been launched by Jeremy Paxman aimed at clearing up the streets of Britain.

He has joined a nationwide anti-litter campaign which seeks to change attitudes towards dropping litter.

Writing in the Daily Mail, he said that corporations themselves have a part to play in helping to tackle the problem.

He added that Coca-Cola Enterprises, Wrigley and McDonald’s have already lent their support to the campaign, although many more companies have yet to do so.

Although making legislative changes and launching awareness campaigns will certainly help to address the problem, the real solution starts with education.

Unless children are taught at a very young age about the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy environment, it is unlikely that any genuine progress will come about.

Therefore, schools should help to take a leading role in educating students, by getting them involved in litter prevention campaigns.

However, in order for any initiative to be truly effective, it has to be ongoing and repeated for children of all ages.

There are a number of ways that schools can get children involved in caring for their environment.

One way is to make a group children temporarily responsible for one area of the school or playground and come up with strategies to keep it clean.

When young people see that their actions produces results, then they will want to participate more because they will be able to see the difference they are making.

The issue could also be partly tackled by the government itself. Some campaigners have suggested lowering the voting age to sixteen in the UK. This may encourage youngsters to get involved with more discussions about their environment.

To an extent, some of these issues are already being tackled in schools. Many schools across the country now deliver citizenship classes, which teach children about how democracy works, and the role they are expected to play as citizens.

Therefore, in some schools it may be possible to include a module on cleaning, and keeping the streets litter-free as part of those classes.