Tuesday, May 5, 2015


We live in a semi-rural area over by Percy Priest Lake, in Nashville, Tennessee and we often take a walk in the early evening.  The scenery is beautiful.  The trees are green and the air is fresh and clear. The birds sing and all seems to be well with the world.  Then we look down.  Lying in the gutters, berms and drains all along the roadside is trash, obviously thrown from passing vehicles.  Why would anyone be so thoughtless in littering this beautiful environment?

My husband has just come in from mowing the roadside frontage of our property and has picked up 40-50lbs of trash such as bottles, cans, fast food boxes and plastic bags.  He even scored a set of nice sunglasses!  Where do these litter bugs come from?  They come from homes where other litter bugs live.  This is where they learned to be one.


I remember reading a true story in a New Zealand newspaper.  A gas pump attendant was filling a customer’s tank when the driver opened his window and emptied all his trash, cigarette butts and all, out on the forecourt.  He then closed the window. The attendant quietly swept it all into a little dust pan and knocked on the car window.  When the driver opened the window, the attendant said, ‘Excuse me, Sir, I think this is yours!", and promptly tipped the contents back into the car.  YES!

What does it take to create a concern for our environment?  We need to look at our own attitude as adults.   Do we understand that trees, plants, and little greeblies are here for a purpose and need an unpoluted environment, too?  Everything is placed on this earth to give us a greater quality of life. When we have an appreciation for our surroundings, then we can train our children to be the same.

  • Lead by example.
  • Show them that respect does not only relate to people, but also includes the nurture of our environment.
  • Train our kids early to pick up their stuff and discard trash in recepticals, NOT on the ground. 
  • Take our kids out in the community with trash bags periodically.  By doing this they will get an appreciation of how much easier it is to put trash in cans in the first place, instead of just tossing their stuff out windows.
  • Encourage our kids to plant a little garden or a tree.  Make them responsible for looking after it and watching it grow.  They will learn to protect it and water it.  By understanding what it takes for those plants to grow, they will be less likely to thoughtlessly damage tree limbs, stand or ride over garden plants and such like. 
We also need to teach our kids that, not only are we responsible for dealing with our own trash, but sometimes that of others.  Brian used to supervise the school cafeteria.  If he asked a child to pick up lunch trash where the owner could not be identified, the response usually was, "I’m not picking that up.  I never put it there."  Of course, they did pick it up, but not before major protest.  We're talking about being a good citizen here, and it's often a hard lesson to learn because of our selfish nature.

The environment belongs to all of us. We need to care for and protect it – not just for ourselves but for future generations. Our kids are part of that future and their kids need to learn the same important value.  It is all a matter of respect.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families 

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