Earlier today I attended the North Shore Litter Summit at Endicott College. The main focus of the Summit was taking action by focusing on the clean-up and prevention of litter and waste throughout Massachusetts. Presenters from Keep Massachusetts Beautiful, an organization dedicated to cleaning up and preventing litter in Massachusetts as a part of Keep America Beautiful, and Change is Simple, an organization that is focused on the education of children about litter and the environment, came to speak about their projects. We as an audience also shared stories of what we had seen in our own towns and cities, and what we had done to help our communities become clean and litter-free through “Education, Legislation, and Enforcement.”
I found the Cigarette Litter Prevention Program particularly interesting, as on my litter clean-ups, cigarette butts were a large portion of the waste collected, along with plastic water bottles and other litter items. Cigarette receptacles called “Buttlers” have been placed all over Gloucester, Massachusetts and other cities and towns in the state to decrease the number of cigarette butts on the streets and sidewalks, and I thought that they were an interesting solution to the problem. Volunteers clean out the Buttlers on a daily or weekly basis to ensure that they don’t overflow, and the entire community becomes a lot more clean. This is especially important along the beaches and outside of bars, where smoking is commonplace and butts are frequently thrown on the ground.
I also loved the conversation about sustainability of litter prevention through educating children in school programs. As a current high school student, I agree with this. Many students at my school either disregard or otherwise do not care for the recycling bins at school, and instead throw everything into the waste bins, causing unnecessary amounts of landfill without even knowing it. If the students at my school were more aware of the waste situation, they would be more conscientious about sorting their recycling and trash, and maybe even bring their recycling habits from school home to their families. I would like to work with Keep Massachusetts Beautiful and my school’s environmental club to help to educate the students in my school and in the community with hands-on learning experiences. Out of the 20 people there, I was the only one under 18, showing that young people need to be more educated about the litter situation, as I know that they with a passion will fight for and work hard towards the goal of making their towns and cities clean from litter pollution.