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Posts Tagged ‘reuse’

Are you looking for ways to re-invigorate your teaching? There are lots of great options for professional development this winter! Check out these workshops that will help you add a sustainable focus to your classroom:

Environmental Explorations NYC at Van Cortlandt Park

This program uses hands-on activities to bring NYC’s local outdoor resources and nature into the classroom and enhance classroom learning. Materials covered include Project WILD, Project WET, Project Learning Tree and more, in addition to introducing teachers to local environmental resources. Teachers will be provided with new strategies for introducing environmental topics in connection with math, literacy, and art, fostering student leadership and developing higher order thinking skills.

The program is from February 20 to February 25, 2012. To register, visit the After School Professional Development’s website at http://schools.nyc.gov/Teachers/aspdp and view their spring course catalog. With questions, contact Sara Kempton, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, 718-601-1553 or sara@vancortlandt.org.

Creative Infusion: The Art of Reuse at Materials for the Arts

Materials for the Arts is an amazing warehouse of art supplies in Queens. This course, which offers P-credits, gives you access to the warehouse and teaches you how to problem solve through reuse and how to create games, books, costumes and sets, puppets, and mosaics. The course incorporates literacy and math into activities. The program takes place over 6 Saturdays. For details and information about registration and fees, check out their website.

Other opportunities:

Do you know of any other great professional development for teachers in New York City?

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We have featured books about recycling, composting, and garbage in the past. Today’s book is about another form of waste management – reuse!

The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong is the story of Steve the electrician and the kids who live in his building. Steve goes dumpster diving on a regular basis – he climbs into dumpsters and explores them to find salvageable items. Then, he and the kids fix these unwanted items up in creative ways.

One day, Steve gets hurt while dumpster diving and the kids come up with an idea – they go to every apartment in the building and ask for unwanted items BEFORE they end up in the dumpster.

This book does not glorify dumpster diving. Rather, it is designed to get kids thinking – is the thing I am throwing away really trash? Can it be fixed? Can it be turned into something new?

After reading The Dumpster Diver with students, have that conversation – what can I do with my waste rather than putting it in the trash?

At the end of the conversation, you might want to organize a swap exchange in your clas, where each kid brings in an unwanted book or toy and trades it with a classmate. You could work with the Parent Coordinator to organize a school-wide swap or participate in a Stop N’Swap.

The goal here is to get kids and adults thinking about ways to use their waste to prevent it from becoming trash… after all, one kid’s trash is another kid’s treasure!

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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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Once you’ve watched a video about how recycling works, you may want some recycling books to use in your classroom. There are tons of titles out there – check these out at your local library to help students investigate recycling in more depth.

For the youngest students, try Don’t Throw That Away! by Lara Bergen. This board book shows creative projects where unwanted items are turned into fun new projects. This book is more about reuse than recycling, and it could get some fun ideas for classroom projects going.

Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel is a rhyming story about fictional Michael Recycle, a superhero who turns one town from gross and garbageful to clean and recycling friendly. There are a number of sequels, including Michael Recycle Meets Litterbug Doug and Michael Recycle Saves Christmas. Michael Recycle is also available in Spanish.

For a narrative that follows a product before and after it is recycled, check out The Story of a Plastic Bottle by Alison Inches. This book shows the journey from raw material to plastic bottle to recycling plant to, finally, a fleece jacket. It is a clear story that will help kids understand that recycling isn’t just about what you do with waste; it’s about what the waste can become. Inches is also the author of The Adventures of an Aluminum Can and I Can Save the Earth!

Of course, there’s The Magic School Bus Gets Recycled, for older readers. The book follows Ms. Frizzle’s class as they hold a recycling drive and then go to the recycling center to see recycling in action.

If you want a non-fiction offering, try Reusing and Recycling by Charlotte Guillain. The reading level is high for early elementary readers, but the vivid photographs offset that somewhat.

These are only a fraction of the reuse and recycling books out there, not to mention all the books on composting and trash. Check back for more books about waste and waste management in 2012!

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If you reuse something you no longer wants, it ceases to be waste! You can reuse by repairing a broken toy, sewing a ripped pair of pants, or turning last year’s calendar into wall art.

Even better, for kids with growing bodies and changing tastes, you can arrange to trade unwanted items with another kid. Swap books you’ve already read and get a brand new reading experience, for free!

In My Green Community, our teacher’s guide, we suggest organizing a toy or book swap in your classroom. Full instructions are in that downloadable guide.

Vieux livres 20050512Another option is to partner with a local organization like GrowNYC to take part in a bigger swap. GrowNYC handles all kinds of sustainability projects, including their frequent Stop ‘N’ Swaps. On periodic weekends throughout the year in all five boroughs, they organize a space where people can show up. You can bring your unwanted items (or not) and take other’s unwanted items, with no restrictions on what or how much you take. Items include clothes, shoes, books, toys, household items, and more. The leftovers at the end of the event get reused or recycled or taken to a swap at a later date.

Last year, three Stop ‘N’Swaps were hosted here at Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and we hope to hold more here in the future!

For more information, check out GrowNYC’s website. There are no remaining swaps in 2011, but look for one near you in 2012.

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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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Today,  a post related to gardens focused on a very interesting park.

High Line 20th Street looking downtown
The High Line is located on the west side of Manhattan, above 10th Avenue between Gansevoort Street and W 30th Street. This elevated track used to be a used to shuttle freight trains from Penn Station to the factories in the Meatpacking District. As the factories moved, the train line was abandoned and was almost torn down in the mid-1990s. Instead, neighbors of the tracks who looked down on it and saw an abandoned wilderness imagined a new park and Friends of the High Line was born. The first section of the park opened in 2009 and the second in 2011 (a third section is in the works).

So why am I telling you about the High Line? In addition to being awesome, it displays a number of examples of sustainability.

The High Line is an example of creative reuse. Rather than tearing down an existing structure (which would have cost money), money was invested into turning this abandoned space into a public park, which benefits everyone. The High Line provides green space in an industrial neighborhood and provides stunning views that cannot be accessed from anywhere else in the neighborhood. In addition, many of the original train tracks were incorporated into the design, both showcasing the High Line’s history and preventing waste.

NY High Line02
The High Line is home to native plants and provides a habitat for local animals. According to their FAQ, 161 out of the 210 plant species in the design of Section 1 of the High Line are native to New York. Because local plants are adapted to their environment, it takes less artificial work from the gardeners to maintain the plants. Or, as the High Line’s section on sustainability explains it, “By basing the planting design on naturally-created plant communities, we create a well-adapted, site-specific landscape, cutting down on water and other resources needed to maintain it. ” All of these carefully maintained plants lead to homes for pollinators and other local animals.

Gleisanschluss

A section that you can't walk on; it serves as a green roof

The High Line is a green roof. In fact, it’s the largest green roof in the world. New York City has an overtaxed water system. This leads to “combined sewage overflows,” which is as gross as it sounds – when it rains, the rainwater causes our sewer systems to overflow, releasing sewage into local bodies of water. Eww! One solution is to carefully choose plants to act as sponges, absorbing water as it falls and releasing it gradually into the sewers. The High Line uses a specific mix of plants and soils to do just that. This is one very sustainable type of garden that provides a solution to NYC’s water problems (more about that next week).

The High Line is committed to sustainable practices in running the park. They do not use fertilizers or pesticides, reduce chemical treatment for snow in favor of hand shovels and power brooms, monitor and reduce the amount of watering, and are in the process of starting on-site composting. For more details, read their sustainability page.

The High Line is committed to educating the public about their sustainable practices. For adults and families, they periodically host events like composting workshops and guided tours of the park. For students and teachers, the High Line has a field trip option for grades 2-7 that explores biodiversity, native species, and New York City’s ecosystem at the High Line.Highline NYC IMG 9028

In addition to all that, the High Line is a beautiful place for a picnic, stroll, to watch the sunset, or just to sit and read. If you’ve never been to the High Line, stop reading this entry and go. Seriously.

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