Posts Tagged ‘reduce’

A while ago, we mentioned the amazing resources out there from the National Energy Education Development Project (NEED). In addition to resources on teaching about types of energy and its sources, they also have resources for teaching about trash.

One page from the flip book; the following page explains paper that cannot be recycled

The Trash FlipBook is a resource designed for K-4 teachers that comprehensively explains waste and ways to reduce it. It starts with what trash it and where it goes (apparently, in the United States, 54% of waste is buried, 13% is burned, and 33% is recycled). Then, the book covers options for waste other than burying and burning (reduce, reuse, repair, compost, and recycle). The guide ends with some more advanced technical information for older students about plastics and landfill design.

A more advanced page for the interested class and teacher

Each page has an image on the front for students to view and ideas and talking points on the back for teacher use.

The Trash FlipBook is designed to be taught mostly through pictures. If you have older students (grades 3+) and would like your students to learn the same material through reading, check out Talking Trash, the upper elementary guide.

Finally, many of the NEED guides are now available in Spanish, if you have a bilingual class. The NEED materials are fantastic and free – check them out if you’re planning to teach about trash or energy!

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What’s the best way to deal with waste? Not create waste at all! If you can avoid buying things you don’t need, you save money and avoid generating waste. Here’s a suggestion to practice at home and with your students…

This is the time of year when lots of people exchange gifts. Wrapping paper is quite pretty, but expensive and generates a lot of waste at the end of the day.

Coloured gift paperHow does my family react? We have two simple strategies:

1. Unwrap carefully. This one is hard for little kids, but once you’re past the age of 8, everyone in my family unwraps carefully because we know that all leftover paper will go in a box in my grandmother’s attic to be reused for future presents. I don’t think we’ve bought a roll of wrapping paper in more than 15 years. (Full disclosure – I bought tissue paper this year, to put in reused gift bags.) Each year, we cut off any ripped edges and we use the paper again and again until it disintegrates. The ripped and crumbling bits all get recycled. It’s actually a fun game at my family’s holiday gatherings to try to remember who used which paper first!

Danny DreamerIf you don’t have a stockpile of paper yet, or you have little kids who will rip through it, try strategy #2:

2. Use the funny pages. If you still get the newspaper, the comics page makes for fun wrapping. I always love re-reading the comics before unwrapping my birthday present. The Sunday comics make for great wrapping, because they’re so colorful!

Next step: Practice these strategies with your students. Have student make a winter present for their parents (maybe a fancy snowflake or a cotton ball snowman) and then help them “wrap” it in newsprint.

And don’t get me wrong – I tend to use brand new wrapping paper for wedding gifts and other important presents; but inside my family we know, it’s the thought that counts, not the wrapping paper!

For more sustainable ideas for the holidays and beyond, check out the students blog from the Environmental Protection Agency.

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You’re finished with something. It has served it’s use. You don’t want it anymore. What do you do next?

Today, we’re going to identify 4 places waste can go and 1 way to prevent waste from happening at all, and then we’ll go into those in more depth over the next week plus. These are kid-friendly definitions to use with individuals of all ages.

With waste, you can:

Composting takes food waste, turns it into soil, and then you can grow new food, like tomatoes!

Reuse: It is great to be able to reuse items; unlike recycling, reusing allows you to give things a second or third life without having to make any changes. Consider trading an old book with a friend – you each get something new to read.

Compost: Composting helps take waste and use it to create great soil, which will then be used to grow new food. This blog already has LOTS of information about composting if you want to learn more about that.

Recycle: Recycling helps turn unwanted materials into something new and wanted. However, recycling requires energy and is therefore not quite as sustainable as reusing or composting.

Landfill compactor

Landfills are gross. By reusing, composting, recycling, and reducing, we prevent waste from ending up in one.

Trash:Everything that cannot be reused, recycled, or composted – plastic utensils, cellophane wrappers, Styrofoam trays – is trash.  It will be thrown away and end up in a landfill, which is gross. Reducing the amount of trash keeps landfills from getting out of control!

Reduce: Before you generate waste, you can prevent it. Think before you buy and you will have less waste, which is great.

For the next few entries, we are going to give you more information about reusing, recycling, reducing, and just how icky landfills are!!

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You may have noticed that with the exception of a very brief post on America Recycles Day, we here at Teach Green in Brooklyn haven’t written much about recycling. That’s not an oversight on our part. On the contrary, it’s a deliberate choice – we wanted to make it clear that there is more to “green” than only recycling. But recycling is important and now is the time to talk about why

Is this garbage? What should I do with it?

“You should recycle” is the one sustainable message kids hear early and often. But the message usually stops there.Kids learn to place empty plastic bottles in the blue bin, but they don’t learn what happens to the items in the bin nor do they often learn ways to prevent things from ending up in the blue bin.

So, for the next few days, we’re going to be talking about all the great ideas that exist for reducing the amount of waste you generate and then what to do with any necessary waste, beyond just “you should recycle.”

Are you excited yet? We are!!!

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