It’s not the actual night that’s the biggest problem, but the days that follow. Evidence of littering lurks like a lost ghoul roving the landscape and casting a foul image.
Before the big night arrives take your trick-or-treaters through a few preventive tips for reducing candy wrapper and snack litter. Here’s an easy, five-point plan.
Point #1: Chewed gum, those gooey globs that become indelible black tar splotches on roads and sidewalks, must not be spit out. Save the gum wrapper. You’ll need it later. Put it in your pocket. You didn’t throw it out when you opened your gum, did you? The wrapper goes in your pocket until you retrieve it at the conclusion of your chew to use to enclose the wad and put it back in your pocket and then in a garbage can. Demonstrate this method to your children. Make it a hard and fast rule. Gum makers should be stating this on their packaging. It’s the least they can do: they don’t pay to clean up gum litter. We do.
Point #2: Don’t leave home without your litterbag. Most parents insist that Halloween treats come home for inspection first. Make sure your darlings don’t morph into pranksters who litter. Include a mandatory paper or plastic litterbag when packing lunches and snacks. Check that all the packaging material returns home with them. Have them recycle whatever they can and trash the rest. Emphasize the responsibility for putting the waste in the right place, helping it come to its “end of life”, as it’s called in solid waste management circles.
Point #3: Limit snacking on the run. If you don’t have somewhere to put the packaging - a litterbag, pockets, a purse or backpack, the right bin -- then eating on the go is risky and litter accident-prone. Dropping it or leaving it behind isn’t an option. Understand that you have to keep the stuff with you and secure it properly, then impart that knowledge across the entire gremlin and goblin community.
Point #4: Keep ‘litter’ in the conversation. Not just on Halloween, regularly discuss litter prevention and keep your kids, parents, friends, yourselves (!) accountable. Become more informed about littering, what it’s costing us in dollars and damage to the planet. Indicate your disapproval of littering. Encourage your schools, places of worship and workplaces to seek out and implement litter prevention programs, and help reduce the rate of littering. Estimates are that between 30 to 50 per cent of the population litters.
Point #5: Listen to your children. Statistics show that kids up to 13 rarely litter and that pensioners litter more than adolescents. Set a good example. Engage and support young people in caring for the environment. They’ll take that lesson with them through life.