Be the Change: Showing Children How to Fight Pollution
With a few suggestions to reduce consumption, recycle and promote organic products, you and your children can make a difference locally, nationally and internationally in a crusade to “go green.”
Electronic Shut Down
As technology advances, it’s likely your children have outgrown gaming systems, old computers and outdated cell phones. According to e-cycle St. Louis, a nonprofit organization promoting technology recycling, nearly two million tons of used electronics are discarded each year, including an estimated 128 million cell phones.
The benefits of donating your e-products are many:
- Conserves Natural Resources: Metals, computer circuit boards, glass and plastics from your electronics can be reused to make new products.
- Supports the Community: When donating your unused electronics, recycling organizations often refurbish computers, televisions and cell phones for use in non-profit agencies and schools. Many cell phones and electronics are also donated to low-income families who cannot access or afford technology.
- Creates Local Jobs: Boost the economy by recycling. Many new businesses are forming in the recycling industry, creating more jobs for people who can recover recyclable materials.
A long, hot shower or a bubble bath filled to the brim may be a comforting end to the day for you and your children, but the waste of water is a barrier to fighting pollution. Teach your children to conserve water by cutting the length of showers and limiting the depth of baths. Discuss how water conservation can eliminate excess waste and overflow throughout the community.
In addition, reduce urban runoff by reducing outdoor watering habits, recommends Pamela Crouch with the Orange County Coastkeeper in California. According to Crouch, ensure that your sprinkler nozzles are aimed properly so water does not run into the street.
Avoid washing your car in the driveway as well, warns Crouch. As soapy water makes its way from your driveway to the streets and eventually into storm drains, it gathers pollutants and goes unfiltered into nearby water bodies.
“Parents should not have to worry about whether or not it is safe for their children to play in the nearest lake, river or shore, but because of the pollution problems caused by urban runoff, they do have to worry about these things,” says Crouch.
As you discuss water conversation with your children, ask them to look up statistics and images online that show the devastation that pollution brings to lakes, rivers and oceans. A picture says a thousand words and hopefully images of pollution will speak volumes about environmental concerns.
In an effort to teach the entire family about how to preserve the environment and fight pollution, it’s important to make recycling a priority. Everyday household items that you typically toss in the trash can be sorted and recycled at community centers or on your curbside. Inquire with your city resource center to see if recycling is available in your community, alongside your weekly trash pickup.
The next step is to get your children involved in identifying household items that can be recycled, such as papers, plastics, glass and metal. CleanScapes, a recycling company based in Seattle, Washington, offers the following list of recyclables:
- Office paper, including windowed envelopes, color paper, file folders and post-it notes
- Mail, magazines, mixed paper
- Paper bags
- Paper cups
- Phone books & paperback books
- Shredded paper (in clear plastic bags)
- Wrapping paper (non-metallic)
- Paper cartons
- Juice boxes, Tetra Paks & aseptic containers
- Milk cartons
- Paper or frozen food boxes
- Bottles (all colors and numbers)
- Food containers and trays
- Clear or colored plastic milk jugs
- Dairy tubs
- Pill bottles (no prescription vials)
- Plastic cups
- Lids (3 inches or wider)
- Plastic plant pots
- Plastic buckets
- Plastic bags (shopping, newspaper and dry-cleaning bags when bagged together)
- PVC pipe (white only)
- Household rigid plastic items, such as furniture and laundry baskets
- Aluminum cans
- Aluminum foil & pie tins (clean)
- Tin cans
- Ferrous scrap metal
- Other scrap metals (less than 2’ x 2’ x 2’)
According to Jim Lewis, former staff in the aluminum industry in Pittsburgh, recycling makes a difference. “Not only does recycling save energy and decrease pollution, it also saves space in landfills,” he says. “Recycling is a simple and easy way to go green everyday in the house. Curbside recycling is easy and families can recycle some materials at scrap yards and turn their trash into cash.”