Adirondack Education: Children and Earth Day

My daughter and I are bonding over our annual Earth Day celebration by cleaning up the parking lot for Ampersand Mountain. After donning her gardening hat and gloves she announces that she really doesn’t enjoy cleaning up other people’s garbage and would prefer ice cream.

I tell her the ice cream will be a good treat to celebrate our job well done. She is not buying any of it. She is rather insistent with her garbage-picking protests. It’s not like I am asking her to wear the stuff like a hair shirt but just hoping to increase her awareness. She is sometimes oblivious of those little scraps of paper that escape from her hand.

I finally am able to encourage her to join me, letting her know that even if she can’t go down the hill to get the garbage I need her help with the detection of it.

She makes a game of “I-Spying” the trash with me retrieving it. Today she has X-ray vision for spotting cups, wrappers, bottles and bags lost under leaves and thrown over the embankment. The cigarette butts are so easy to find that she waves her hand around, pointing rather dismissively. Sadly, we retrieve two full bags of trash.

My daughter is of an age where she reads (memorizes) signs after we tell her what the sign says. She asks what the huge white sign states at the edge of the parking lot. I tell her, “Do Not Litter, $100 fine.”

She shakes her head and sagely informs me of the reason why people have chosen to litter. “It doesn’t say please,” pointing to the sign. I counter her argument by letting her know that the second sign by the trailhead does say please.

She points for me to pick up a used diaper someone has tossed onto the grass and shrugs her shoulders. “Maybe they should have said pretty please.”

Well, if that is the case I do not agree with the wisdom but can’t argue with her logic. It is the “magic word,” isn’t it? I am now in my fourth year of picking up someone else’s trash at the Ampersand Mountain parking area.

If using the “magic word” would make all the difference then I would even go so far as post a sign that said “pretty please with sugar on top,” but that would be littering.


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