My 3 year-old daughter can't stand to see trash on the ground when we go to parks and sometimes she will spend half her time there running around picking up trash & throwing it into the ample trash cans. Why can't people walk a few feet to use a trash can? It's so annoying.
She will tell us "We have to take care of the Earth!" "We have to pick up the trash!" "We have to recycle!" Such a good little Earth-Crusader. I think all the books we read about recycling really help and it seems like every show on PBS has some episode about taking care of the earth.
Anyways, this weekend we went to go check out a new park they are slowly creating in a neighboring town. Right now it is just a small lake for catch & release fishing (which they stocked) with some trash barrells (2 of several happen to be right in the parking lot - THROW YOUR STUFF OUT AS YOU LEAVE PEOPLE!) and some picnic tables. There was so much trash around the place on Sunday that it was just digusting. Trash all over the parking area, trash in the lake & trash in the grassland. She really wanted to stay & pick it up, but we weren't dressed for the park since we had just come from church. So, we promised to come back later to go fishing & pick up trash.
On Monday, she & daddy made the trash pick-up sticks (which are necessary when trying to pick up things out of the lake or if you are pregnant and find it hard to bend over much anymore). It was daddy's idea and he used leftover items from other projects (wood, nails & paint) to make them with her. I guess I am not the only creative one in the family.
It's a simple idea. He just hammered a nail part way in the end of some scrap wood (made one adult size & one kid size) and then sawed off the head so that it had a pointy end. They then used leftover paint to make them look spiffy (plus as they are hanging in the garage we know what they are and don't mistake them for scrap wood).
She thought it was pretty fun to go back to the park and use her new trash stick to clean up the earth. I thought it was pretty neat that I could pick up plastic bags & stab cans in the lake and not have to touch them (or bend over!)
And you know what - it doesn't cost us a thing to pick up litter (or to throw away you trash in the first place), just a few moments of time. You could even make a game out of it and have your kids race to see who can get the most trash in their bags. Although, I draw the line at cigarette butts; I won't let her touch them. I wish people with that filthy habit could throw them away if they are going to do that (& why are you smoking in a public park?)