#ThinkB4UThrow: Why littering is bad for your kids

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Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash
Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

South Africans produce over 54 000 tonnes of municipal solid waste daily, and much of that lands up in our oceans, on our beaches and where our children play. 

Dalu Cele, Chief Executive Officer of CleanCity South Africa NPC, tells Parent24 it is important that parents keep their households free of litter, including the streets and open spaces such as parks around their neighborhoods.

"Kids play around anywhere, especially without parent supervision," he says, "and litter that is within reach of the kids can cause harm to their health."

Parents should always keep sight of where their kids are, and where they play, to avoid getting kids exposed to harmful litter, he says.

Harmful substances

He adds that it is important that parents teach their kids the discipline of thinking before they throw away any used plastic, paper, can and bottles: all these must be thrown into the bin.

Cele warns parents that litter, such as contaminated medical waste, can promote the transmission of disease. 

"Broken glasses or sharp objects can be picked up by kids," he says, "which can harm them or they may eat something that may get them sick, or even lead to death."

Correct disposal 

According to Helen Moffett, author of Waste Wise: 169 Ways to Save the Planet, some things are very tricky to dispose of safely.

She warns that certain pharmaceutical and medical waste has to be professionally disposed of, such as used needles and blood bags.

If you have to dispose of something like this, ask your doctor or pharmacist what you should do. 

She also warns to never throw away expired drugs, including antibiotics or hormones and to never ever flush them down the toilet. This keeps them out of the ecosystem and safely away from children and animals.

It is best to ask your chemist to dispose of these items for you, or to take them to a hospital for incineration.

If you'd like to teach your kids more about litter and cleaning up, visit thebeachcoop.org for Cape Town beach cleanups, and the #ThinkB4UThrow campaign for Johannesburg based initiatives. 

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