Last month Enviro Girl read this article with dismay. Here’s an excerpt:
Researchers found that, when surveyed decades ago, about a third of young baby boomers said it was important to become personally involved in programs to clean up the environment. In comparison, only about a quarter of young Generation X members — and 21 percent of Millennials — said the same.
Wow. Depressing, right? Especially for those of us who teach or parent children. All of our canvas shopping bags, highway clean-ups, recycling and reducing don’t seem to be making much of a lasting impact when you read this news.
Enviro Girl had the pleasure of teaching 3rd graders twice in the past week. On the first day the students got an introduction to renewable and nonrenewable resources via their Social Studies textbook. This led to listing nonrenewable resources, which naturally led to oil which Enviro Girl naturally linked to plastic. To demonstrate the cavalier attitude people have towards plastic (a non renewable resource, which means it cannot be replaced, once it’s gone, it’s GONE), Enviro Girl grabbed the classroom garbage can and began pulling things out of it.
Plastic wrappers. Plastic bags. Plastic pens. A broken plastic trinket. The students quickly saw via her visual demonstration in their own classroom garbage bin how much of our waste is plastic–a nonrenewable resource. Never one to back down from a golden opportunity, Enviro Girl asked the students what they think they could do to help solve this problem. The students began listing ideas–reuse water bottles, reuse bags, recycle plastic containers and so forth.
It’s interesting to note that Enviro Girl’s son was one of the students in the class and he did not volunteer a single answer. Eventually, Enviro Girl pressed him to give some ideas. After all, his mom’s an Eco Warrior, right? This should’ve been easy.
After much prodding, Enviro Girl realized that while her son knew they used canvas shopping bags, bought milk in reusable glass bottles, stored food in glass and metal containers, never bought individually wrapped snacks or plastic baggies, never bought bottled water or other beverages in plastic bottles, used metal water bottles and refused plastic trinkets, he never associated this with “being kind to the environment” or “reducing our use of plastic, a nonrenewable resource.” In other words, Enviro Girl learned she was an Eco Warrior that her own family failed to recognize.
Why was that? How does growing their own food, restoring native prairie, cleaning highway ditches and line-drying laundry not sink in? Enviro Girl suspects it’s because she never really talks about it. Sure, she does many environmentally friendly things, but she almost never mentions how her actions are deliberate choices. She came to understand that while actions speak louder than words, she still has to SPEAK about what she’s doing and instill the reasons for her behavior into her children. If she doesn’t, how can they understand that valuing the environment is a family value, a moral choice in their world?
Tomorrow Enviro Girl will continue this tale, but today she leaves you with these thoughts: ARE you talking about your environmental values and choices to the next generations? HOW are you discussing these things? Or are you like Enviro Girl and taking for granted that they’re learning about it without your explicit instruction?
In honor of Earth Day 2012, the Eco Women are giving away an assortment of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange seeds to two winners. What better way to celebrate our Earth than by getting a little earth on our hands!
All you have to do to enter this giveaway is leave a comment on this post. You don’t have to say anything in particular, but feel free to tell us about a new eco action you’ve been trying or something you’d like for us to talk about here on this blog. This giveaway is open until noon on Earth Day, after which, we will randomly draw two names and contact the winners.
To learn more about Earth Day and what you can do to help Planet Earth, visit the official Earth Day website.