On a recent visit to John Milledge Academy, Auntie Litter shared with an excited crowd of second-graders about the importance of recycling. It was all made possible through Keep Milledgeville Baldwin Beautiful’s Auntie Litter Campaign, which teaches all local second-graders, both public and private schools, about the virtues of recycling and litter prevention.
“Auntie Litter,” locally embodied by Johnnye Ann Lee, visits classrooms to educate and inspire youth on the importance of good stewardship and how each person can make a difference in the world by not littering and recycling at their home. She reads aloud a book to the children about the day-in-the-life of the trash truck.
“Thanks to the support from the Georgia Power Foundation ($2,000) and Riverbend Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility ($2,000), we are able to give each second grade child a coloring book featuring Rocky, the Recycling Racoon during Auntie Litter’s classroom visits,” said Ashley Bacon, KMBB executive director.
On a recent visit to the John Milledgeville Academy second grade classroom, Bacon and Auntie Litter spoke about the importance of recycling at home. Bacon took questions from the excited young crowd on what items are recycled in the United States, what the process of recycling entails, and how litter can harm the environment.
“We should all make sure that we recycle everything possible, including plastics, metals, and even food,” said Bacon to the JMA students. “Plastics that end up in the ocean can cause great harm to the animals. They can get entangled in it and eat it and get very sick.”
For JMA second grade teacher, Risa Allen, teaching children young to care about the environment is vital to securing a safe and prosperous future they can enjoy.
“If we don’t educate them and if they do not do better than we’ve done, then the world will be destroyed,” she said. “There will not be anything left if we continue just to throw everything away.”
Allen said that the children in her class already know a lot of information about recycling because their families participate in the act. She believes the children are very open to the idea of making the planet a better home through the good stewardship of natural … resources.
Bacon said that teaching good stewardship habits young will help to curb the lack of responsibility that some adults have when it comes to picking up trash that is not of their own making. She stressed that everyone inhabits the same space and should feel a sense of duty to keep the community clean and beautiful.
According to a 2009 national survey conducted by Keep America Clean (KAC), littering is primarily the result of individual behavior. The survey reflected that changing individual behavior is key to preventing litter and that 81 percent of the self-reported littering occurred with notable intent, including dropping and throwing items outside of trash or recycling receptors.
The survey also shows that community environment influences littering behavior. According to observations conducted by KAC, a strong contributor to littering is the prevalence of existing litter and most occurs at a considerable distance to the nearest receptacle. The littering rate when a receptacle was 10 feet or closer was 12 percent while the likelihood of littering increased steadily for receptacles at a greater distance.
According to KAC, individuals under 30 are more likely to litter than those who are older. In fact, age and not gender is a significant predictor of littering behavior.
Early last year, the Baldwin County School District implemented a recycling program throughout its system in partnership with KMBB and Advanced Disposal and Diversified Maintenance. The disposal company donated more than $15,000 worth of equipment for the effort, including bins and provided free servicing for the recycled items at each school building.
“You would be so surprised to see how many students tell on their parents when they are not recycling everything they can within their households,” said Bacon. “They develop the positive habit while at school, and it truly does carry over into homelife.”
Looking toward the coming months, Bacon said they would be working once again with the entering freshman class at Georgia College (GC) on GC Gives Day. Last August, KMBB teamed up with GC, along with city and county officials to provide a day of volunteer service including many beautification projects.
“It was so successful and such an incredible day in our community that we are looking toward this year’s event with a lot of excitement and anticipation,” said Bacon. “It is a wonderful way to create an early connection between the students and the community in which they are making their home for the next four years. We want them to have a vested interest in our community.”
For more information on Keep Milledgeville Baldwin Beautiful visit their website at www.keepmbbeautiful.org or the Facebook page @keepmilledgevillebaldwinbeautiful. Ashley Bacon can be contacted at 478-457-6950 and email@example.com.