When we turn on the news or just look around where we live, we are probably more conscious than ever that there is a growing concern for the environment. The sustainability of the planet is called into question when you consider the results of deforestation or climate change to mention just two of today’s pressing concerns. Education is widely regarded as man’s best defense against many of the negative things we see happening in the world today, be it social injustice or environmental concerns. So how can we use this valuable tool to effect change?
Without question one of the more alarming facts about the way we live in this modern world is that as societies we produce an incredible amount of waste. The paperless era was supposed to herald an age of less, not more paper products, but it seems that in western society, at least, there is an increasing demand for cleaner, more uniform packaged goods. Add to that the explosion of online shopping that we see worldwide, and you will no doubt agree that the amount of packaging alone adds up to an unacceptable increase in waste material. Older generations my find it harder to think in terms of recycling or re purposing goods because they came from an age when plastic didn’t always prevail, and products were already organic and not overly processed.
Teaching the Young
Younger generations have conversely rarely known a time when everything they consumed wasn’t packaged and processed to meet the demands of modern living, and where convenience often takes precedence over common sense! Young ones, particularly those of school age, need to start learning about the effects of modern living and in particular how they can contribute to a reduction in consumer waste.
Basic initiatives like re-cycling, that already exist in most western cultures, can be reinforced by encouraging young ones to participate directly. Many countries don’t just expect households to recycle their house hold waste where appropriate but encourage this outside the home with rebate systems for the return of plastic bottles, which are now reaching phenomenal numbers and causing untold damage to the environment when discarded thoughtlessly. The cash or token incentives encourage this practice but hopefully a regard for the planet will also be a motivating force.
Direct involvement in the necessary clean up and care for one’s local environment can foster good habits in children at a very young age. Why not have children assist in neighborhood cleanups, perhaps in parks or local beauty spots such as beaches, so that they may develop a sense of stewardship over their own neighborhood. This activity can easily be woven into any school’s social studies curriculum and develops a spirit of volunteerism that will serve them well in the future. Ultimately these initiatives aim to decrease the waste that already exists but it’s time to also encourage young ones to generate less waste in the first place.
Why not encourage them to shop with you at the farmers market and take home your fresh produce devoid of plastic wrap in a re-usable shopping bag! Better still growing vegetables can be both satisfying and a contribution to less processed waste. The young people of today will also come up with some new initiatives of their own if from an early age they are encouraged to think outside the box.