Living Green

Watch this video on recycling tips for kids:

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Even if you’re “just a kid”, there’s a lot you can do to care for the environment. Lisa Bjerke is living proof. Originally from Sweden, Lisa is currently a senior at College of the Atlantic in Main, where she runs the school’s composting program. She has been studying environmental issues and working to preserve the environment since her mid-teens.

Why Should I Care About The Environment?

What would you rather have, pristine beaches, pretty parks, and majestic mountains, or disgusting landfills, gross sewage, and stinky smog? Humans simply can’t survive without clean air and water. We may have those things now, but if we don’t start taking better care of the environment soon, they’ll be gone before you or your children are done with them. This is your future. Take care of it.

How To Save The Earth

  • On your own, there are lots of things you can do for the environment. Try:
  • Taking your bike or public transportation instead of driving or asking for a lift. It’s also a great way to stay healthy.
  • Carrying around a reusable bottle or mug to avoid purchasing drinks in disposable bottles and cups
  • Keeping an eye out for recycling bins, which are turning up in more and more places
  • Taking baths instead of showers
  • Using reusable bags instead getting a plastic bag every time you shop
  • Thinking “do I really need this?” before buying something new
  • Learning to love second-hand stores
  • Learning some basic sewing skills, so that you can repair or repurpose clothing you already own
  • Never, ever littering
  • Influence Others

Don’t think that just because you’re a kid you can’t make major changes at home or at school. It’s all about how you approach those who are in charge. Lisa has some great tips for you. She says adults will be more likely to listen to you if you are armed with information, and you’re prepared to do the work. Get a group of like-minded friends together who are willing to help out and think of some great projects to suggest to your parents or school principal.

Be positive and don’t approach them from a position of blame.

So, instead of saying, “I can’t believe you’re letting the school throw tons of paper into landfills!”, try, “I’m so glad you’re making sure the lights are off in classrooms that are not in use, but I can also help get a paper recycling program going. Please let me try. These are my ideas…”

Do your homework so you can offer information about the concrete benefits of the changes you’re suggesting, both for the environment and the school itself (many environmentally-friendly initiatives also help save money). Offer to run a two-week “pilot study” where you try your ideas out and measure the benefits. There are many opportunities in volunteering with environmental initiatives.

With those tips in mind, some of the things you can work on at home and school include starting:

  • A recycling program
  • A composting program (check out worm composting!)
  • A litterless/waste-free lunch program
  • A buy/sell/trade program for school uniforms or textbooks
  • A clothing swap day
  • A carpooling competition

Check out the list of resources included here to learn more about how to get these programs going. Most important of all is to be a good example for others.

Never let anyone catch you littering or throwing something recyclable in a garbage bin. Ask to have environmentally-friendly birthday parties, where all your gifts are green, such as second-hand items, cool reusable bottles or bags, digital music, or repurposed clothing.

Even better, tell everyone the last thing you need it more stuff cluttering up your life and the environment and ask them to donate to an environmentally-friendly cause instead.

Green Tips For Parents

One of the best things about being young is having a sense of idealism. Right now your kids are more likely to develop a passion for important issues such as human rights and the environment than possibly any other point in their lives. If your kids come to you with their concerns about these issues, don’t squash their dreams. If their ideas seem unrealistic or simply a lot of work, remember the passion is theirs, so they should be the ones (with your support) who make the positive changes they envision. Use the resources list included here to help your kids explore how they can make their home, school, and community greener for everyone.

List of Resources

For tips on how to get some of the programs suggested here off the ground, check out the following:
Clothing Swap
Uniform Swap
Textbook Trading
Litterless lunches