Littering in our High School


Photo by Alison Mckeough

Why? :(

Many studies support that a messy environment can contribute to the mentality of those in it. A clean environment leads to positive behavior while a dirty environment will do the opposite. This physiological fact is extremely worrisome considering recent complaints.

From food wrappers to discarded assignments, after the hustle and bustle of Patchogue-Medford High School settles down at the start of every period, one thing seems to always  be left behind in the hallways throughout the school: trash. It has been reported by students and teachers that there has been an increasing amount of garbage tossed on the floors of our high school, left for someone else to clean up. It has been found everywhere from vacant corners to next to garbage cans and recycling containers.

This is upsetting to many teachers and students as it is seen as disrespectful to our school, as well as the work done by the janitorial staff. After speaking with teachers and students about what they have to say about this issue, it is clear that something has to change. Many students reported regularly seeing papers floating through the hallways or witnessing others discarding their unwanted garbage on the floor. While it is easy to complain about a problem and move on, it is important to ask the simple question: What can we, as students, do to work towards a solution?

Perhaps “mob mentality” is to blame. When people, especially adolescents, are in a large group, they are susceptible to doing things they would not ordinarily do, such as litter. All it takes is one student throwing garbage on the ground, and you won’t have to wait long before you see others doing it as well. While it is impossible to control the actions of others, teachers encourage students to remember the effects of their actions, and how they can impact the environment around them.

You may be familiar with an experiment done by Walt Disney, where he studied people and concluded that the average person walks an average of 30 steps with garbage before giving up and dropping it on the floor. This explains the frequent sightings of garbage cans throughout Disney World. Many students mentioned this to me when asking if they have any solution to our growing problem. Is it reasonable to place garbage cans 30 steps away from each other? Maybe not. But many students tell me that clearly seeing a garbage can around school could possibly make them more eager to use them.

Regardless of our role in the problem, it is important for us to work together to establish a long lasting solution. while it isn’t our job to walk around school collecting garbage, it is up to us to limit the amount of garbage that needs to be picked up.