Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Cash for Trash

Over the weekend, I paid my 6 year old $4.25 to pick up trash on our camping trip. Our favorite campground littered with mostly “micro trash” such as discarded stickers from fruit and wrapper fractions.

The deal was: no glass, nothing sharp, no toilet paper — 5 cents a piece, and 25 cents if it was bigger than his head. He responded like a good, little capitalist and spent hours indentifying and collecting trash. He asked us why people left all of their stuff behind and, in the process, became much more aware of where his juice box straw wrappers were going.

I have thought about doing this sort of thing on past outdoor excursions though he seemed too young to use good judgment. Picking a bottle cap is one thing, but I was a bit grossed out about the germ factor. With visions of used hypodermic needles swirling in my head as well as not wanting to set a precedent of giving my kid money for an action that I hope to instill as an ethic, I resisted. This Cash for Trash plan, however, seemed like a reasonable way to raise his awareness thus I stayed close, and we talked about the trash he found and how it got there.

If you’re reading this and dismayed by my parenting or, better yet, have another version of doing a little community service as well as Leave No Trace education with a young child, please write in!

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