This Summer, the Alice Ferguson Foundation (AFF) had the opportunity to work with approximately 275 youth, ages 6-12, at five Summer Playground Camps through Maryland National Capitol Park and Planning Commission. Each camper completed two sessions, a cleanup of their summer playground, and learned about the litter issues both in their neighborhoods and the Potomac River Watershed. The campers learned about some of the successes and also some of the challenges in working to create a behavior change when they were given a visual tour of the Regional Litter Prevention Campaign and shown some of the work implemented in the Trash Free Communities and Trash Free Schools projects.
Over the course of two weeks, campers were able to identify trash hotspots and determine how long it would take certain pieces of litter to either decompose or biodegrade through use of AFF’s “Trash Timeline” lesson and activity. Both campers and staff showed great fascination especially in learning that a plastic bottle could take nearly 450 years to decompose in the natural environment. Participants were also tasked and given insight on how to reduce litter through the items they pack for their lunches. Outside of learning how to pack a “Trash Free Lunch”, campers were given insight on buying in bulk, which will reduce packaging along with saving their parents money.
Although some of the campers admitted that they themselves were litterers and also knew litterers, they pledged to change their ways and even spread what they learned to friends and family. Participants were deemed honorary members of the Alice Ferguson Foundation and tasked to create ways in which they could positively impact the litter issues in their homes, schools, and communities.
If you would like to take control, take care of the trash in your community and be an honorary member or the Alice Ferguson Foundation, try the following:
- Create an 11 x 17 litter prevention poster (laminated or not) and post it a trash hotspot around your neighborhood.
- Contact AFF’s “Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative” and learn how to write a persuasive letter to your local elected officials to solve a community trash problem or local environmental issue.
- Create a Community Trash Information Document that highlights vital trash contacts in your neighborhood, county, and/or state.
- Participate in or host a community cleanup activity to further understand the trash problem and beautify a local trash hot spot in your community.
- Challenge yourself to bring a Trash Free lunch to work or school one time each week.