By Larraine Roulston:
Throughout the school year, children practice the 3Rs. For them, recycling has become second nature. Although their busy curricula have come to an end for two months, students can still keep learning how to manage their resources wisely. They can and must become key players in making their world a better place from an environmental standpoint. It’s all about ReThinking.
Off to the beach …. adopt the waste-free lunch challenge as promoted in schools by recycling councils. Pack a thermos with a drink and reusable containers for sandwiches, vegetables and treats. Take your own cutlery and napkins. Most parks now have recycling containers, so be sure to put any empty cans, bottles and paper into the appropriate containers. If none are available, return with recyclables for home collection. And don’t forget about composting! Banana peels and unwanted food can go back into lunch boxes. Students can be inspirational ”voices” to inquire about setting out more recycling bins as well as containers to collect organics at city parks, public beaches, arenas and hotels. When a child or teen asks a valid question and offers earth friendly suggestions, management listens.
If you are looking to try out a new summer sport, first think of shopping at your local thrift or consignment store. They are great places to check out used tennis racquets, for example. Visit yard sales. Pass on your used items to friends and neighbors as well. To read books and watch movies, check out the local library.
Say goodbye to plastic straws, as they are petroleum bi-products made and transported using fossil fuel . Their usefulness is measured in minutes before being discarded. In the U.S. alone, over 500 million straws are thrown away each year. That’s a lot of plastic. Also, as plastic is often litter which frequently enters our oceans and lakes, we need to stop creating these disposable products. For those who require or especially like a straw, reusable, non-shattering glass ones are available.
Travel with your own mug. Fast food restaurants, ferries, airplanes and entertainment sites opt for either plastic or paper cups. Some get recycled; most do not.
When washing hands in a public washroom, simply wave hands to dry. Why waste a paper towel or energy from a hand dryer? Although paper towels are made from post consumer recycled paper, they’ll end up in plastic garbage bags, as most places do not send them to composting facilities or reuse the bags.
Before purchasing cheap souvenirs, consider how much “stuff” you really need. Are they over-packaged? Are they manufactured locally?
Suddenly, summer vacation has taken on a new dimension. It can be fun and quite exhilarating to take on the spirit of a 3Rs activist, helping to lead the way towards Zero Waste.
Larraine authors children’s adventure books on composting www.castlecompost.com