Colorado Five-Year-Old Leads "Green Team" Cleanup

Cameron Hiatt of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was walking with his mom and dad one day when a garbage truck drove by, prompting Cameron to say that he’d like to ride on one sometime and help the sanitation workers pick up trash.

A couple days later, the family was talking about Cameron’s upcoming fifth birthday and what kind of a party he wanted to have. “We were talking about themes for the party like Star Wars, dinosaurs, race cars—you know, typical five-year-old-boy stuff,” recalls Cameron's mother Traci. “And then, totally on his own, Cameron said it would be fun to have all of his friends over and have a trash pickup party.” That's Cameron, below at center.

As it happened, the WinterWonderGrass music festival was taking place in Steamboat Springs around that same time. While at the event, Cameron and a couple of other five- and six-year-olds saw the festival volunteers walking around picking up trash and took it upon themselves to help out. They spent more than an hour walking around the venue picking up trash and did such a great job that they earned honorary “Green Team” status. The WinterWonderGrass experience further fueled Cameron’s excitement about a trash pickup birthday party.

Traci, a longtime Sierra Club member, says Cameron’s awareness of trash and wanting to pick it up has developed as a result of spending a lot of time outdoors. “We love to raft and camp during the summer, and Cameron’s job is always to be on micro-trash duty, with the goal of leaving our campsite cleaner than when we found it. We talk about how we have to take care of nature—the same way we take care of our house, our school, our pets, and our family. We’re all connected.”

“It isn’t nice to litter,” Cameron says. “It’s important to be nice to our planet."

The day of the birthday party, the trash company sent out one of their big trash trucks so the kids could throw their bags into the truck themselves, honk the horn, and pretend to drive the truck.

“It was super fun!” Cameron says.

“The kids loved it!” Traci says. “Picture about 30 little ones with their gloves, biodegradable bags, and pickup sticks, collecting over 40 bags of trash from around our neighborhood. The kids were talking about it for weeks afterward!"

"It was a win-win-win—for Cameron, the community, and the environment," says Ryan Hiatt, Cameron’s dad. "We’re going to make it an annual event.” 

“Playing outside is fun, so we need to keep it clean and take care of it,” Cameron says. “We are the green team!”

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