Now the Summer holidays are officially here, there's never been a better time to get your kids learning about the natural world and how to take care of it. Involving them in litter picking is a good start, as this is a simple activity that can show them the importance of keeping the natural environment as clean as possible. They'll also be able to see exactly what they've achieved when they finish the activity, as the area where they've been litter picking will be spick and span!
So, here the bins retailer SkipsandBins.com has brought together some top tips for involving your little ones in litter picking and keeping their neighbourhood tidy.
Make litter picking sociable
One of the easiest ways to make litter picking into a fun activity for your kids is to turn it into a social outing. Look for a litter picking group in your area, and go out with them at the weekend or during the week after school — whichever works with your schedule. Having other people around will turn picking up litter into a social pastime instead of a chore, and this way your child can make friends and have fun while looking after their neighbourhood.
Many schools have litter picking excursions too, so you can encourage your child to join one of these as well, either as a school trip or something that you join in with as a parent. You could even organise an outing with other parents and children through your school to clean up the streets surrounding the playing fields and school buildings. Whatever you choose, turning litter picking into a social activity where your children get to spend time with their friends will make it much more fun, and encourage them to be positive about cleaning up.
Choose a scenic route
Working some outside play time into your litter picking outing is another great way to keep your kids enthusiastic about it. Taking walks in nature is a great family activity — as well as being fun, it keeps children active and teaches them about the importance of the natural world.
So, organise your nature walks so that you can add some litter picking along the way. This might consist of cleaning up the local park or playground, or you might litter pick in a residential area and then finish off your trip by venturing into somewhere scenic for a ramble. This will help to add enthusiasm to the litter picking too, as your little ones see how enjoyable and beautiful nature can be when it's taken care of.
Create a scavenger hunt
Making your litter pick into a scavenger hunt can really add to the fun of the activity. Try making a list of things that you might find or see on your walk, such as plastic bottles, cardboard, or drinks cans, and hold a competition to see who can find the most. You might also want to make a nature scavenger hunt for your children to complete as they go along their walk, to encourage them to pay attention to the natural world that they are clearing up.
Turning the litter pick into a scavenger hunt can really give your kids a sense of achievement when they find certain things on the list, and introducing a competitive element can give them more incentive to put effort into cleaning up. If you find that this method is a hit, you could print out your list of items to find, and keep a running total of who is doing the best — giving the children more incentive to go litter picking on a weekly or monthly basis.
Teach your kids about recycling
As well as picking up litter, it's important that children understand the importance of keeping areas litter-free, and what materials can be recycled. Teach them about what recycling is, and the different things that can be made out of plastics and cardboard if we remember to recycle them. You can also get them involved in the recycling at home, having them be responsible for the paper, plastic, or bottles, to get them used to doing this chore.
You can also teach them about the impact of waste on the environment, and how we can change it by cleaning up our local communities. Understanding the motivation behind litter picking is sure to help with your children's enthusiasm for it, and make them more keen to get involved.
"It's important that we raise little ones with an understanding of the natural world's beauty, and how they can help protect it. Learning about recycling and how they can be more eco-conscious in how they deal with waste is a great thing for them to be introduced to while they're young.
"Teach your children about the different types of bins that you have, and how litter and recycling are split up. This way, when you come to do the litter pick they will recognise why certain types of litter have to be sorted separately. To make litter picking more fun, you can experiment with a project to decorate bins in your area to make them more eye-catching, or start your own community litter picking group specifically for children and parents. With some creativity, litter picking can become a social, enjoyable pastime that lets your children experience a sense of achievement when they keep their community well-presented and clean."