Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Read a Book
It seems rather simple, but books can help teach your children the “why” behind recycling. When the characters in a book learn why recycling is a good idea, your child learns, as well. Finding books that include characters with whom your child will relate is key to encouraging them to learn from their behaviour.
Go to the Zoo or Museum
Most kids love animals, and since recycling can actually help protect animals, taking your kids to the zoo or an animal or natural history museum can help them see these beautiful creatures. Explain that animals can get sick if rubbish isn’t disposed of correctly, and ask them to explain what they learned. Asking a child to repeat back what they’ve learned helps them cement it in their minds, and it also helps you ensure they’ve got the right message.
Colour-coded trash cans, like the kind you can find at ImRubbish, can help you set up a game where certain items of rubbish must be sorted into the correct container. For instance, you can set a pile of different types of rubbish on the ground in front of three cans. Have one can colour be for paper recycling, one for cans and bottles, one for general rubbish, and so on. Have your child sort the rubbish properly against the clock, and reward them for what they accomplish correctly.
A word search is a relaxed but effective way of teaching children about recycling, as well. Several sites have such activities available to be printed straight off the computer, and you and your child can search for the words together. Casually ask your child to explain to you the different things he or she has learned about recycling as certain words come up. Alternatively, you can ask your child for definitions of the words that are to be found. This rhetoric helps to ingrain the principles and verbiage associated with recycling in your child’s mind so they learn it at a deeper level than if they just read it once in a book.
Taking a field trip to the local recycling centre is another great way to involve your child in recycling, and teach them about recycling, as well. Most kids are really interested in how things work, and they’ll think it’s really great to have an opportunity to tour the recycling centre. However, they walk away with a hands-on learning experience and a deeper understanding of what can be recycled, why recycling is important, and what types of things can be made from recycled material.
Save Rubbish to Save Money
There’s nothing like some monetary incentive to encourage your child to participate in the family recycling efforts. Since most recycling centres will pay you for your recyclable rubbish, pick up a few coloured bins that are just for your children and tell them to sort the rubbish they create into the appropriate bins. Whatever they collect they get to keep the money from, but only if they come with you to deposit the recyclables. Not only do they learn about recycling, but they’ll learn about hard work and earning money, as well.
Another great way to involve your family, and even your entire community, in recycling is to join or create a recycling drive. Gather your family and get the community involved, and see how much recyclable rubbish your community can gather. You can add some fun elements to this activity, as well, like using the funds to pay for an auction item that can be raffled, or simply spreading the wealth among the members.
Letting your kids experience recycling is the best way for them to learn about why things should be recycled, how they’re recycled, and how it helps the environment. Show them the types of things that can be recycled, and how it can turn into a brand new item. Reward them with positive reinforcement when they demonstrate that they have learned what you have taught them. And remember, you have to set a good example for your children to follow, so be sure to keep up with your own recyclable rubbish, as well.
Tim Brown is a primary school teacher with a passion for the environment. He enjoys blogging about ways to engage children in caring for the earth in a responsible way.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Fourth of July is right around the corner! Summer’s hottest holiday will no doubt call for backyard barbecuing, fireworks and maybe even a dip in the pool.
Here’s how to throw a little green into your mix of red, white and blue.
1. Ditch the disposable party ware
They’re popular and easy. Disposable plates, cups and utensils are convenient for parties with a lot of guests. The down side, they’re not so convenient for the environment.
To avoid this, do your best to use normal tableware that can just be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route, clean them up (they’re often washable) and use them at your next big gathering.
We also love the “bring your own plate” theme. The hodgepodge of different dishes can serve as talking points at your party. An added bonus: Turn it into a dish swap. Bring your own dish and leave with a different plate for your collection.
The same idea works for glassware. Instead of charging a “keg fee,” a party-goer’s ticket is his or her own glass.
2. Get outside!
The best way to reduce your party’s footprint is to calculate its energy usage. The No. 1 way to avoid added costs to your electric bill is to utilize the outdoors – perfect lighting, temperature and truly inherent green setting.
Host your barbecue at midday when the light is bright and fills your crowd with energy. Or fight soaring temperatures and take advantage of the cooler evening weather. It’s a great way to enjoy nature and reduce the energy costs of using indoor facilities.
3. Use propane for grilling
Before diving into this one, we want to point out that we are not trying to step on any grillmaster’s toes. The debate between charcoal and propane is a tough one: Which one produces more flavor? Which is cheaper, faster? And most importantly, which is more eco-friendly?
We consulted a recent study by Environment Impact Assessment Review to answer this one. Drum roll, please…
According to the study, “the overwhelming factors are that as a fuel, LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”
The two grilling methods were defined by their overall footprint, with charcoal using 998 kg of CO2, almost three times more than propane, which weighed in at 349 kg.
ScienceDaily reports that as fuel, LPG is “dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production.” When purchasing a propane tank, make sure there is a trade-in option. Most retailers will let you bring in an empty tank in exchange for a decent discount on your next tank.
4. Save (and reuse) your decorations
If you’ve hosted Independence Day celebrations before, you know the décor is often the same: streamers, party favors and table toppers all in bold red, white and blue.
Sadly, most people often use these decorations once and then throw them out. But they can be reused year after year! So, this year, after the party’s over, take the time to store and save your decorations. You or someone you know can use them again next year, which helps to save on a bit of unneeded trash.
5. Opt for greener fireworks
Fireworks are hardly an environmentally friendly activity, but they’re an unwavering Fourth of July tradition. If you’re setting off your own fireworks this year, be sure to use fireworks rich in nitrogen. They often cost a bit more but put out less smoke into the environment.
Another option is to gather your group and go see your local fireworks display. It’s a great way to see a much bigger fireworks show and negates you from harming the environment with your own personal display.
6. Gather in groups
This may seem like a no-brainer for such a popular holiday, but the larger a group you gather (preferably outdoors), the less energy you use at individual parties that may take place indoors. Plus, the more people to help prepare and purchase food, the less of a cost it is to each individual. Just make sure your fellow party goers know these green tips!
7. Use large water containers
Plastic water bottles are convenient, but like other disposable goods, they can add up fast. In lieu of individual plastic bottles, store water for your family or guests in large containers so they can re-fill their reusable water bottles or reusable cups. If you must use plastic water bottles, be sure to encourage your guests to recycle them.
8. Don’t forget to recycle
One of the easiest ways to go green is to recycle your waste. So be sure to put a clearly marked bin out at your party.
If you did opt for disposable dinnerware, remember that those plastic plates, cups and utensils can be recycled. Paper plates will have to be thrown out or composted due to food residue.
If you’re unsure about recycling specific materials in your area, we’ve got you covered. Use Earth911 to find local recycling centers for your common party waste, such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles.
Amanda Wills is the East Coast Editor of Earth911.com
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
April 22, 1970, marked the very first Earth Day. Over 20 million people took part in rallies, cleanups, teach-ins and other activities across America, and it’s commonly considered to mark the dawn of environmental consciousness in North America. This day of action for the environment went global in 1990. Since then, it’s become an annual event held to raise awareness about the preciousness of our natural resources, and take action against over-consumption, pollution and climate change.
This year’s Earth Day will be celebrated by close to a billion participants in countries around the globe. In fact, says the Earth Day Network, “Earth Day is the only event celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all backgrounds, faiths and nationalities.” In the U.S., millions of people will mark the day by participating in rallies, as well as tree planting projects; cleanups of parks, schoolyards, rivers, shores and roadsides; pond restoration projects; community garden initiatives and more.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
Sheet rock and brand new lumber from the hardware store seem awfully boring – and incredibly wasteful – when you see the beautiful homes and other structures that can be built from recycled materials. An entire Buddhist temple made from glass bottles, modern modular s hipping container homes, houseboats perched on land and resort lodging in a vintage ‘60s airplane are just a few of the awesome buildings that make use of unconventional and sometimes offbeat recycled junk.
(images via: green upgrader)
Don’t throw those empty glass beer bottles in the r ecycling bin – use them to build a house! Or, perhaps, an absolutely amazing Buddhist temple in Thailand. It took one million beer bottles to create this temple, which stands not only as proof that recycled and reclaimed building materials can be truly beautiful, but as a reminder of the waste that we generate.
Because of their translucency and ability to hold thermal mass, glass bottles are also often used in cob building to enhance natural daylighting for a stained glass effect.
(images via: dornob)
Who would have thought that grain silos could be so luxurious? Ubiquitous sights in rural pastures, disused grain silos can often be purchased and moved to create unusual circular homes. Some people use them for quick, upcycled eco-friendly dwellings on the cheap, while others have given them a remarkably modern makeover. Grain silos even have potential for durable, inexpensive prefab housing.
(images via: beercanhouse.org)
When John Milkovisch retired, he got bored – but he didn’t turn to golf for entertainment. He began adding ‘aluminum siding’ to his Houston, Texas home in the form of flattened beer cans “for both practical and decorative reasons”, he says on his website. The house is now covered in 50,000 cans.
Of course, Milkovisch’s home isn’t the only building made from this rather random junk material. Aluminum cans are often used as ‘bricks’ in earthship building, stacked and mortared with lime or earth.
(images via: dornob)
When piled high on a barge, shipping containers aren’t exactly fertile inspiration for recycled a rchitecture – but creative thinkers have managed to turn these boring rectangular boxes into surprisingly beautiful homes, offices, apartments and dorms. Like giant modular metal Legos, shipping containers can be stacked into all sorts of configurations with a crane – and of course, they’re really easy to transport.
(images via: global giving, making this home)
Millions upon millions of tires end up in landfills every year in the U.S. alone – but many are salvaged for creative uses like – drumroll please – building houses and other structures. Packed with rammed earth, tires make an incredibly solid b uilding material that helps retain heat in winter and keep the building cool in the summertime. Off-gassing is said to be a non-issue, and tires work especially well when built into the earth as earthships often are.
(image via: sea-fever.org, MR38)
Boats aren’t just for the water – as proven by numerous ‘house boats’ seemingly stranded on land, which people actually use as a primary residence. And how better to recycle a ship that’s no longer seaworthy? Huge ships like the Great Lakes Shipping Boat (top) – now known as The Ship Residence on an island in Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, Ohio – make incredible seaside mansions that are quite a sight when seen from the water.
(images via: dornob)
Wood pallets are plentiful, thrown out every day by companies that no longer trust them to keep merchandise safe during shipping. So how could they possibly be reused as a building material? Well, wood pallets are often still in great shape and can easily be nailed back together. And while they may not be a great load-bearing material for anything other than a shed, they do make a fantastic addition to building exteriors to filter sunlight.
(images via: inhabitat)
A cardboard building may sound like the most temporary of structures – something you expect to find in a shantytown, not a suburban neighborhood. That it is, but imagine how such a material could be put to use for inexpensive emergency shelters that set up ultra-fast. Architects Stutchbury and Pape developed a $35,000 flat-packed prefab cardboard house made from 100% recycled materials with a waterproof outer membrane made of HDPE plastic.
(images via: dwell)
Surrounded by industrial scrap metal every day for years, a former scrapyard owner saw a lot of potential for reuse – and put those ideas to work in his own home, a modern metal masterpiece 90 minutes northwest of Toronto. A rusted metal gate made from an old truck chassis, old galvanized s teel siding and I-beams rescued from a demolition job are just a few elements of the mostly recycled home. And what will happen to this recycled home when it’s finally due to be demolished?
“With most houses, when they’re torn down, everything goes into a bin,” homeowner S. J. Sherbanuk told Dwell. “When this house gets pulled down 60 or 80 years from now, they won’t even need a bin. It’s all gonna get reused.”
They’re not exactly known for comfort when you’re flying the friendly skies, but take out all those seats and airplanes are really roomy. Just take a peek inside the 727 Fuselage Home at the Costa Verde resort in C osta Rica, a two-bedroom suite made from a refurbished vintage 1965 Boeing 727 airframe. Retired from its former hectic life as part of South Africa Air’s fleet, the salvaged airplane serves as a cozy and unique lodging perched atop a 50-foot pedestal for the feel of being in the air.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, July 27, 2008
This is a fantastic initiative that deserves as much publicity as possible. Not only does this provide needy schools with valuable computer resources, it helps keep working hardware from leeching their toxic chemicals into waste dumps.
I elaborated on this notion a few years ago on my other blog in a post called e-Waste (27 June 2006). Rather than reiterate what I’ve already said there, I’ll just republish the post in its entirety:
In many ways the computer age has done a lot for the environment. Innovative technologies and tools that have enabled the digitisation of information - including word processing, financial record keeping and mail correspondence - have largely reduced our reliance on paper as a storage and transportation medium. You can bank and send mail online, store and view photographs, and even read the newspaper - all without printing a single page. Handwriting has become almost a novelty.
Furthermore these points just highlight traditional day-to-day activities. The medical benefits realised through technological innovation have enabled doctors and physicians to conduct extremely complicated procedures, process complex biomedical experiments and pharmaceutical tests, and monitor minute fluctuations in the condition of a very ill person; all of which would have very difficult in the past - if not impossible.
However this age is not without its issues. So-called e-waste dumps are now growing at an exponential rate, and the amassing of these towering heaps of corroding hardware is becoming a huge problem. Aside from being both eyesores and harddrive graveyards, discarded computers are creating environmental issues of their own.
With technological advances occurring at an incredible rate, what was once a top-of-the-line motherboard, graphics card or monitor is now an old clunker. And increasingly these old jalopies are being hucked onto the scrap heap. The shear mountain of discarded computer hardware is no small figure either.
As a BBC article discussed yesterday (”PC users ‘want greener machines’“, Monday, 26 June 2006): “30 million PCs [are] being dumped each year in the US alone.” That’s one computer for every 10 people - every year. These dumps have to go somewhere, and that unfortunate role has been increasingly assigned to China and India.
Furthermore, the presence of all this corroding hardware in one place has begun to present additional problems in the form of toxic waste. As a UN University report discussed: “making the average PC required 10 times the weight of the machine in chemicals and fossil fuels.” This includes Lead, Arsenic, and Mercury. When you consider the volume of these chemicals leaching out from 30 million corroding computers every year, their implications for local public and environmental health are worrying.
As the article mentions, there an increasing demand for greener PC’s coming from both consumers and IT companies alike who are willing to pay extra for a more environmentally-friendly machine. Dell, Hewlett Packard, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson have all made commitments to either remove completely or phase out hazardous chemicals.
I am personally glad to hear about this trend; yet I also propose that more is required.
‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’ in the Computer Age
We have reached a staged in the computer age in which technology for most is an integral component of our daily existence. Computers are everywhere; so too are the chemicals used to create them. And while some consumers may be willing to pay a little extra for a greener PC, many will not. Some PC makers may begin to adopt greener practices in their manufacturing, many will not. Furthermore, even if every computer manufacturer decided to immediately elminate hazardous chemicals from their computers and computer hardware there would still be literally ten’s of millions of existing machines that contain them.
So the dilemma is both in the present and future tense. What do we do with our existing machines, and how can we can we make the transition to a Green Computer Age?
In terms of the future tense it appears as though we’re moving in the right direction. Consumer demand does a lot in the business world, so the more buyers voice their interest in green technology the more likely it is that we’ll begin to see it. This leaves the present tense.
What needs to be done here is the implementation of wide-scale Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle programs for computers and other IT components. We have been well and truly taught to Reduce our reliance on petrol and fossil fuels by car pooling, taking public transportation and even riding our bicycles; Reuse or re-purpose materials that aren’t necessarily broken, but don’t serve their original purpose anymore; and Recycle our aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles and newspapers. Why could the same campaign not be implemented for computers?
We could in fact kills two birds with one stone, and help to combat the growing chasm between computer have’s and have-not’s that characterises the Digital Divide.
Combating the Digital Divide
The Digital Divide is a trend in which poorer demographics are increasingly being left behind in the endless race to build bigger, better and faster hardware. Schools are being forced to use hardware that has long been obsolete (some don’t have any at all); students are being left behind in the trend towards eLearning and other online educational projects; and jobseekers are being placed at an obvious disadvantage when they can’t upskill on technology that is becoming a required ability in the workforce.
If it’s not broken, don’t replace it; if you have to replace it, give it so someone who needs it, don’t throw it away. Your old computer can help a child to learn, a jobseeker to gain valuable skills to make them more employable, or it can contribute to a growing public health and environmental problem. Which would you prefer?
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