The Pottstown Borough and PDIDA should be commended for organizing the town clean up day this past April, which appropriately coincided wtih Earth Day. However, a yearly clean up is not enough to keep our town litter free, and more attractive to home buyers and business investors. ALL POTTSTOWN CITIZENS NEED TO JOIN IN THE EFFORT! If you look at successful neighboring towns they all have VERY CLEAN streets! Communities with popular walkable downtowns (similarly sized to Pottstown) such as West Chester, Media, and Phoenixville showcase bright welcoming appearances! Families want to spend time in towns that are pleasant and environmental!
I have asked myself several times, “why do people litter”? I have thought various reasons from laziness and social apathy to ignorance. One thing I am certain of, is that children learn environmental/community pride attitudes rom their parents and immediate culutural surroundings.
According to sociologists: Kees Keiser, Siegwart Lindenberg, and Linda Steg the authors of “The Spreading of Disorder” the litter phenomena is similar to the broken window theory, in that it becomes acceptable to throw trash on the ground if “every one else doesit!” The social scientists state, “Imagine that the neighborhood you are living in is covered with graffiti, litter, and unreturnedshopping carts. Would this reality cause you to litter more, trespass, or even steal? A theory known as the broken windows theory suggests that signs of disorderly and petty criminal behavior that is not corrected, becomes “the norm”, thus causing the behavior to spread. This maycause neighborhoods to decay and the quality of life of its inhabitants to deteriorate. For a city government, this may be a vital policy issue. We found that, when people observe that others violated a certain social norm or legitimate rule, they are more likely to violate other normsor rules, which causes disorder to spread.”
So what is considered universally deviant and criminal (littering) evolves into a subculture of acceptability. Some neighborhoods are cleaner in Pottstown than others, locals often argue that it is the homeowners that pick up more litter than the renters. That the corner grocery stores need to make more of an effort cleaning up after their customers! However, we need to stop blaming others! The Pottstown Borough is in the process of enacting a litter ordinance that will require property owners to clean up the trash or be fined!This “hold property owners accountable for the way their properties look law” shoud go into effect by winter 2011.
A good start to teaching your kids about environmental stewardship andcommunity pride is by reading them the following books: TheWartville Wizard by Don Madden, Pick Up The Litter by Bill Wallace, and Lil’s Legacy of Litter by Lester Lex. If you cannot find these greenreads, then head to the Pottstown Public library and they will be happy to help you find some earth friendly books for your youngsters.Another good thing to do is “bribe” your kids with a “reward” perhaps taking them for an ice cream cone or swimming after they,have helped you clean up around your home area and block!