Full disclosure here. I live in Portland, Oregon. A land where recycling is picked up every week, but garbage only every two. Where the government gives us compost bins to keep by our sink. Where stores have long since banned plastic bags, and there is no bigger walk of shame than leaving the grocery store with one of those brown paper ones. We think about the environment here.
But man, not like this kid.
6-year-old Henry Marr of Mount Vernon, Washington, became an internet sensation after his mother filmed his impassioned plea for people to stop being “rude” to the environment. Since it was published to Facebook on May 25, the video has garnered over 17 million views.
“They are being so bad,” Henry says of litterers. “I could just call them dumb people. Or maybe even a bad word, the ‘S’ word.” (Henry’s mother, Allie Hall, clarified that for Henry, the “S” word means “stupid.”)
“I’m going to try and fight them off, when I’m a grown-up,” Henry continues. When his mother suggests making posters instead, Henry agrees, saying, “I’ll do that and fight.”
After his mother asks what he can do right now, Henry suggests going with his mother to Little Mountain to try to stop people. “And I can bring my whistle,” he adds.
The video is sweet, but also heartbreaking. Henry’s raw emotion about what is happening to the environment runs deep.
I showed the video to my own 6-year-old boy. At first he was concerned about Henry. Then he wanted to know why he called the litterers “dummy balls” (he misheard). But then we began talking about ways that we can help the environment.
“We could tell people not to litter near animals’ homes,” he suggested. “And we should never throw trash in the water because a sea turtle might eat it by accident.” (There is not a large population of sea turtles in land-locked Portland, but the point is a good one.)
We also talked about the importance of putting things in the right bins — composting what we can, recycling paper and plastics, and trying to be sparing with the trash bins.
“Maybe if we could just buy an apple, or buy an apple that has plastic and stuff on it, we could just buy the apple,” my son added.
It can sometimes feel overwhelming to fight the “S-word” people. Or even to know where to begin. Henry’s passionate response to the harm we can do to the environment got the conversation going. It helped us think about little things we could do to try to make the planet a little healthier. And it even inspired us to volunteer to help clean up a local park.
So well done, Henry. Keep on fighting. You don’t need to be a grown-up to make a big difference.