Last fall, I started holding "Trash Tuesdays" with my kids.
To give you a little background -- we live in a residential neighborhood in Manhattan; an active and engaged community. While there are garbage cans on most street corners, there are not nearly enough to contain the regularly overflowing garbage. Since we live so close to the river, the added wind makes certain pockets and blocks cyclones of swirling trash. Lovely, I know. We also live near a large park that is a popular birthday party and hang out spot. The grass and flowers are often littered with food wrappers and miscellaneous trash.
For weeks, Milo and I had been chatting about picking up the garbage with a toy grabber that he had recently gotten.
One beautiful Tuesday, we packed up some snacks, a few plastic grocery bags, the grabber, some cleaning wipes and hand sanitizer. And off we went on a trash collecting adventure.
We picked up lots of trash, climbed trees, threw leaves, ate snacks, played with dogs and had a blast.
Over the past few months, we have had such fun on our trash collecting adventures. The kids (and I!) still love it every time we go.
Do we go every Tuesday? No. Do we only go on Tuesdays? Certainly not. Is it always a lengthy activity? Nope.
But now when we pass garbage on the sidewalk, Luna always points to it and says, "Uh oh!" Every.single.time. Sometimes I don't catch her in time and she throws out something gross on her own. Oh well. And if we see trash without the grabber in tow, Milo almost always tells me that he wants to come back with it so we can clean it up.
So I would say this giving activity is surely worthwhile.
Tips for Trash Tuesdays (or any day!):
- If you're doing this activity with young kids, it will likely not be hours of uninterrupted trash collecting. But it is so much fun to roll with it. Be flexible and let the activity play out however it does -- engagement on any level is giving!
- Make sure to explain to kids why you are giving in this way. It is never to early to help them understand what an impact they can make on their community.
- It's fun to take turns having different jobs: Trash Spotter, Trash Grabber, Trash Collector.
- Living in NYC, we have come across garbage that is not so appropriate for little ones. So you may want to think about what you might say if your kids come across condoms, condom wrappers, or drug paraphernalia. Yes, seriously.
- On several occasions, my kids have almost squeezed baggies of exploding dog poop that have been left on the sidewalk. Gross. If you're in an area like us where they are everywhere, stay alert or you will have a mess!