Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Do You Have a Problem With School Kids Littering? Here is a letter I wrote to a local public school administrator

Hi Elizabeth,

I am following up on the litter discussions we had. I have been really busy with arranging clean-ups of litter in the neighborhood, writing to council to see that state laws are enforced more effectively, especially on illegal dumping, I have contacted McDonald’s to do their part to remind patrons to not litter (seeing that the majority of fast food litter is from there), have contacted the mission-like places in the neighborhood asking them to do their part and have spent countless hours every week picking it up all over with some block club help.

Simply treating the symptom by cleaning it up, however, and not addressing some of the causes is simply not enough. There are several constituents of litter and many sources. If we can reduce the input from each or many of the sources, we will have made a difference--because collectively many people/sources become a part of creating the problem, and so this is why I feel many can be a part of collectively reducing the problem Among one of the contributors to neighborhood litter is school kids. Junk food wrappers and sugar drink bottles lay everywhere, each day.

Originally when I contacted you I was a bit vague in what I wanted to achieve when explain it, but in my mind I knew exactly what I would have liked to see done. What I want to see done is for you or someone else who can spread the message of this letter to the students via school newsletters or public announcement---and ask students while walking home that they not discard rubbish of any kind onto people’s yards or anywhere else---and that they should wait until they get to a proper trash can for proper disposal. I have people who live in the neighborhood all the time telling me what they witness students doing and I have seen it as well.


Many see litter as a trivial issue but it is far from one and in fact the complete opposite--and something we should have evolved past not doing by now as more and more recycling is promoted. Ohio spent 4 million dollars alone last year retrieving litter just from around highways. Litter devalues property and the environment and harms its wildlife---here, especially harming Lake Erie and its wildlife and swimming areas, our biggest economic asset. It creates a health and public safety issue as well by attracting unwanted pests. Additionally, it degrades the curb appeal in any given area contributing to scaring off businesses that sustain neighborhoods with jobs---many of which could be for these same school kids in the future. Litter is a part of the broken window theory, which basically suggests if you let decline of any kind start in a neighborhood, it will only lead to and promote more---with bigger crimes to follow. Littering is among the first symptoms that foster this theory.

Considering the fact that it is against state law to litter for very valid reasons…. is reason enough to pay attention to this issue. Fines of up to $500.00 can be imposed locally and state wide. I think it is time we start paying attention to this law, so that when it is enforced, people will not look at the police like they are from Neptune.

Not that I think it will solve the problem--as more causes of litter are more deeply rooted---BUT, I do think it will show the schools are doing their part to exercise more social responsibility on this very important matter. I would still be interested in attending any meeting we discussed, but truthfully, I am very busy myself and would like to see the schools show some simple initiative on this issue by getting the word out. It does not take a host of meetings and debate to simply remind your students that littering is not acceptable. Then later, we can work on educating them as to why it is not acceptable. All common sense and all seemingly y lost on this issue.

As the new school year approaches and with the litter that will fall like rain from students, I would appreciate your assurance that you will get the message out. It should be announced daily. At least I can respect then... that like other places I have contacted have agreed to do their part to help, the schools also have done their part.

Sincerely,
Robert Carillio
Ohio City


P.S. I still think we should have the guests I was talking about attend an appropriate meeting in the future, but until then, announcements about littering are a start. With all of the neighborhood issues on my plate, I cannot go from school to school, Principal to Principal, etc. Your help is greatly appreciated.

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