environmental education

Environmental education, a child’s play

The other day I was thinking about how to tackle environmental education with my children and how parents should address issues such as responsible consumption, environmental sustainability, ecological footprint, or the importance of recycling. To do this, I went back to the time when I started recycling… What a memory! How beautiful it was. And how important we felt sorting waste. Once, I even cleaned my waste before taking it to the dumpster! 

Several years and fifteen garbage bins under my sink later, I learn that there is an island of plastic garbage in the Pacific that is bigger than France, that we have turned the fertile lands of Ghana into the technological dumping ground of the developed world, or that tons of space garbage are orbiting our planet. Then, I look at my children and mentally beg for their forgiveness: “I’m sorry I brought you into the world when it’s coming to an end!”

Environmental education in four rounds

Sometimes, I think it’s already too late to save our planet and I wonder if I should focus on encouraging children to take care of the environment or if I should focus on teaching them survival techniques in a zombie apocalypse instead. Then I realize that in a post-apocalyptic scenario I would be one of the first to die, so I let it go.

  • Round one: education for responsible consumption. I am shocked by those mothers who take pride in applying the principle of austerity to their children, with the latest iPhone on their hands. Does she really believe what she’s saying or is he just trying to troll me? Yes, my dears, environmental education means to educate on responsible consumption, which is key for our children to adopt a sustainable way of life as much as possible, from the very beginning. But for that to happen, it is necessary to preach by example. To find out if you’re doing it right, ask your closet.
  • Round two: reuse first, recycle later. We have to get rid of the idea that garbage is something without value. For example, for my six-year-old daughter, any waste that doesn’t smell bad has endless possibilities. An empty shampoo bottle or a cardboard box is a real treasure for her, not to mention the toilet roll! It is important not to get confused: it is one thing to reuse and quite another to recycle.  It’s exactly the same thing with an Ex, first you reuse him, and then when he has nothing else to offer, you throw him away permanently with the hope that someone else can make something good out of him.
  • Round three: fix what you break! I’m worried about those people who don’t know what a repair means. Something breaks and they throw it away! But let’s see, pitcher soul, have you checked that the batteries haven’t run out, at least?! This system, of course, is not sustainable, but it has been encouraged by the industry since the planned obsolescence was proposed in 1932 as a way out of the Great American Depression. Great Depression? Tell me about it! We work all day to constantly buy things that have a hidden expiration date! In this society ruled by the maxim of “use and throw away”, the Earth is another victim of consumerism, and environmental education implies to head against the wall of the consumer society. At this point, I think our children will end their days in a world like something out of a zombie movie: barren, dark, unbeatable, and hostile, where they will have to fight other tribes for a can of expired soup. Since they’re little, I’ve taught my kids that when something breaks, we must try to repair it first. Starting with the toys.
  • Round four: natural resources are rare… and they cost a fortune! Today, I got gas and electricity utility bills at the same time today. Boom, strike! Natural resources are valuable because they are scarce, because many people do not have access to them and because, what the hell, they cost an arm and a leg. That’s why, since my kids have had the use of reason (and skilled fingers to flip switches), I nag at them by urging them to use them responsibly: “Turn off the tap” and “Turn off the light” are my two favorite hits from the album “Nowhere Like Home”. In the end, they get it: Emma already turns off the lights I left on.
  • Coup de grâce: take care of the Planet or the Planet will exterminate you. And if they have not understood anything about the above, we always have to face them with the harsh reality.  Yes, even if it’s hurtful, but the sooner you know that the better: if we don’t take care of the Earth, we are doomed to self-destruction. (How do you explain that to 5- and 6-year-olds?) Anyway, sometimes, with important matters, you have to smooth them a little.

I’m sure that after watching this video you are all superconscious and eager to teach the first lesson. Start with something easy: the toilet paper roll. This way, they also develop their creativity and you can keep them entertained for a while. But do it green, do it by candlelight…I don’t wish that anyone has to pay that electricity bill, even if it is my worst enemy.

I’m a mother, so I understand very well that Mother Nature is monumentally pissed off at the way we’re behaving towards her. She’ s going to exterminate us. And that’s it.
I’m a mother, so I understand very well that Mother Nature is monumentally pissed off at the way we’re behaving towards her. She’ s going to exterminate us. And that’s it.

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