By creativelearning, Feb 10 2020 06:03PM
Learning to care for our environment
There has been a huge shift in recent years, both globally and nationally, towards caring for our environment and to becoming more aware of the impact that we, as humans, are having on our planet.
We have all looked in horror at the recent news reports of huge global changes, for example flooding, both in other countries and more recently, affecting us at home, and at the huge bush fires burning uncontrollably in Australia, both of these catastrophes wreaking havoc to people, homes and wildlife, with many experts believing that this is the result of climate changes brought about by human activity.
We’ve also watched documentaries aghast at the effect that plastics and micro-plastics have on marine life - the problem is just so big it can often seem overwhelming. So what can we do to help? This is a question that we have been pondering over in nursery for a long time, which prompted us to look at measures that we can take to help do our bit to care for the environment – even if it’s just in a small way.
For a long time, Creative Learning has been taking ‘small steps’ in terms of caring for our environment. Within our two settings, we are always striving to be the best that we can be, and sometimes that includes embracing change. We believe some of the most dangerous words in the English language are ‘We have always done it this way’. Instead of always sticking to the familiar, we learn, we adapt, we evolve and we grow.
After a lot of consideration we decided to try and drastically reduce our use of single-use plastic and make a change to something we have ‘always done’. This coincided with discovering that wet wipes are made up of 95% plastic so, after researching more eco-friendly alternatives, we began to make our own wet wipes using bio-degradable paper rolls and organic soaps. And, as demonstrated on our Facebook post that was subsequently shared almost 700 times, other settings have chosen to do the same.
Since June, we have not bought a single pack, instead using our own homemade, biodegradable wipes. In this time frame we would have usually gone through 1000’s of packs, which equates to tens of thousands of individual wipes that haven’t gone into landfill. We now only carry a pack during outings, just in case, and since June have used less than a dozen packs for this purpose and those packs were left over from before our new scheme began. There has not been any financial gain from this switch, but we are so proud of the environmental savings that have come from making a small step.
However, we will not be making bold statements about striving to be a completely plastic free setting. Plastic has its place, just as other resources do. We have some plastic toys, which are purposeful, and believe that eradicating plastic is not the answer. Rather, we strive to move away from single use plastics and aim to make wise choices in what we purchase and use.
We, as we have always done, educate our children about protecting and caring for the world in which we live, and the importance of recycling as part of everyday life. We have several books on this subject which are always in rotation, that have been well loved by our pre-schoolers for years. ‘Michael Recycle and the Tree Top Cops’ is often requested.
Our children know that we recycle our food waste to turn into fuel, and have an idea of how. Gus, aged 3, knows that: “It goes in the special bin, the man comes and then it is made into petrol”
As a business, we do not have our waste food bins collected by the council, but rather pay extra to have them taken away to be made into bio fuel. The children are fascinated by the fact that leftover food can be turned into something else- thus perpetuating the idea that most things can be recycled, repurposed and reused.
This ideology is reflected throughout our practice, often in purposeful activities that reuse previous resources. Sometimes, though, it’s as simple as a conversation. We have always had open discussions with the children about the importance of being environmentally conscious. They know we turn the lights off when we go outside to save electricity, and aim to recycle wherever we can. Most importantly, they have a wider understanding of why, not just how. Ezra, 4 years, exclaimed during one such discussion- “If we don’t recycle, the polar bears and penguins won’t have any life where they live!”, whilst 4 year old Martha mused “We need to save the planet because we don’t want the animals in the sea to eat plastic bags”.
As always, home and nursery cross over and the children excitedly discuss what they do at home to help the environment, with Kiana, aged 3, noting that her mummy “puts the recycling away in the box and just waits for the truck”.
It is an important and empowering lesson to learn that although we are only a small part of a big wide world, we are indeed part of it, and are responsible for it, and must take care of it, even if the actions we take might not always seem big enough to make a notable difference.
Our children, who are indeed the future of this big, wide world, believe that these small steps add up to big things. We must try our best, evolve and make changes where we can, and hope that they are right.
If you would like to know how we make our wipes, please take a look: