It was a hot, summer’s day way back in the eighties. (Think: hazy Instagram tones, unflattering ra-ra skirts and bad hair. I shall not be supplying a photo.) My best friend Deirdre and I were bored. And what do nearly-teens do when they’re bored? Why experiment of course. This was the west of Ireland, however, and we were convent-educated. While other, more worldly youths, were no doubt toying with tobacco use or musing on the mellowing effects of marijuana, our dalliance with danger was somewhat less badass. We decided to see if it would be physically and psychologically possible for us to deliberately drop a piece of litter. (Gasp!)
We tried several different ‘litterbug’ moves. The slide it to the floor whilst doing a John Cleese style silly walk. The brazen toss, complemented by a defiant Farrah Fawcett flick of the hair. The fold it so tiny it almost wasn’t there anymore. The careful placement in long, shrouding grass.
They all ended in failure, with a hurried picking and pocketing of the offending items. Try as we might we could not overcome our upbringing and our consciences. It was as futile as trying not to scratch the itchiest itch.
Why am I telling you this? Apart from making you envious of my wild youth I thought this particular anecdote would give you an insight into just how deeply programmed I am to be anti-litter. Nothing has changed since the eighties (apart from, thank God, the hair and the clothes). I will never deliberately drop litter and I don’t understand how others can. As you can probably imagine, I have recently embarked on a one-to-one anti-litter programming campaign of my own. It seems to be working.
Last Sunday we were hanging out at a local outdoor pool in glorious sunshine. Jack was sitting on the edge, chubby little toddler feet dangling in the water as he angled to get talking to the three young siblings who had just arrived with their parents. (Poor deprived only child that he is.) While Jack gazed on the family intently, the dad instructed his 2 year old son to dispose of a crisp packet on the ground, over by the fence. At which point my nearly-4 year old intervened. ‘You can’t do that. You have to put your rubbish in the bin,’ he proclaimed matter-of-factly. The dad did a double-take. Apart from anything I don’t think he had realised that Jack could speak Spanish. ‘Si, si’ he stuttered before recovering himself and coming back with a feeble ‘but there isn’t a bin here.’ Mr Mini-Conscience had an answer for that, ‘Well then you have to put it in your pocket and take it home.’
Hopefully that’s one dad who may refrain in the future from teaching his children that it’s okay to drop litter. And the legacy of the Sisters of Mercy marches on.
I’m linking this post up to Country Kids at Coombe Mill – because the first rule of the countryside is: ‘Don’t Drop Litter!’ Click the badge below to discover lots of great posts about family adventures in the outdoors.