I read something recently that said Earth Day ranks third in awareness, especially in elementary-aged children, just behind Halloween.
I can’t speak for all schools, but I know my children’s school(s) have always done a great job in educating the students on things that we can do to be kinder to the Earth. My middle child especially loves to study and learn about social issues. At just twelve years old, he is concerned about the Earth’s resources, the impact of NOT recycling and pollution. Yesterday, we were at the gas station, and he asked me why gas costs so much. ($3.69 in my area at the time of this writing). After I explained the process, he decided it would be better for everyone to go on a three-week, no buying moratorium. Further, he would make the three weeks random so that no one could stock-pile.
His reasoning? “So that gas [oil] would be more abundant and gas prices would be cheaper.”
Of course, this may not be the right way to go about saving one precious resource, but at least he is thinking.
We all know that there are things we can do to be kinder to our Earth. Recycling probably tops the list on overall impact. However, in order for recycling to work, it has to be done properly.
In our community, we have to take our recyclable products to a recycling center. The bins are labeled: plastic, cardboard, glass, metal and aluminum. As clear cut as that seems, every time we go I see products thrown into the wrong bin.
Aluminum and metal are not the same. Here is how you can tell:
If a magnet sticks, it is metal.
If it doesn’t (such as a soda can), it is aluminum.
Special side note: Don’t forget to save the tabs off those soda cans. Places such as the Ronald McDonald House take them to earn money to help families in need.
Magazines, phone books, or reading books do not belong in either the paper or cardboard bins. Those need to be handled in another way. Contact your local agency.
The biggest offender I see is plastic. More specifically, plastic grocery bags. If you do not already use reusable bags and are not quick to ask for paper bags, the store will automatically pack your purchases in plastic. The biggest reason?
According to my husband, the store manager for a southern chain, per bag, plastic bags are five to ten cents cheaper. Being that those pesky plastic bags hold only about 30 percent of their paper counterparts, a week’s worth of groceries add up to a wad of flimsy plastic bags that have to go somewhere.
The plastic that is used to make those bags is not the same as a yogurt or condiment containers. In the case of our community, the recycling center that picks up our bins and processes the contents is only able to handle plastic labeled with a 1 or a 2. So the bags are not able to be recycled and having them incorporated into other materials actually tears up the machines.
It is important to know what plastics your community collects, and how and where to take the plastic is doesn’t. Recycling shouldn’t be done half way.
The best way to recycle plastic bags is to collect them and drop them off at any store. Most grocery stores, Target and Wal Mart have collection bins set up especially for this purpose.
Life Without Plastic does a great job explaining the differences on plastic as well as how to eliminate it out of your life.
I never realized how much plastic exists in our everyday routine until I started research for this article. Have you ever thought about a straw? I use straws every single day. And I am ashamed to admit that I also through at least one straw away daily. Thankfully, I found this blog: My Plastic Free Life, As part of my Earth Day commitment, I am going to get rid of straws as well. I am going to challenge you to do the same.
(But, I won’t throw them in the trash!)
Finally, to get some great tips on how we can make every day Earth Day, head on over to the EPA website. There you can Pick 5 for the environment.
I think my future grandchildren deserve it. Don’t you?
Heather attempts to write a plastic-free and humorous commentary on parenting pre-teen boys, books, and other life hiccups at Cool and Hip, I Am Not.