Educating About Recycling
The key to efficient recycling is knowing what can and can't be recycled where to take the material, and how the process works. This approach might also lead an individual to query why a certain type of material can't be recycled, and then to try to find ways it can, or to encourage others not to use it, in favour of materials that can be.
It is important to be aware of the factors behind recycling, such as the scientific facts as well as the hard facts concerning landfill, pollution, and environmental degradation. It is crucial to keep abreast of all the information constantly being produced about these topics, as they drive the agenda for their advancement, and keep them in the public and political arenas – where change can be affected.
Understanding the Culture of RecyclingThere really is a culture of reducing, recycling, and reusing which is deeply ingrained in older members of our society. Those who lived through the war, for instance, remember what it was like to have shortages of goods, and even food rationing. A culture grew of conserving what was available, and living on less. This persisted post-war, and seems in stark contrast to the current consumer culture of 'everything is available'. It is a valuable lesson to talk with our parents, grandparents and elderly neighbours who experienced different times with very different values.
Starting Young: Recycling in SchoolFrom the kindergarten, the playground and the classroom, children absorb information and a sense of moral codes from those around them, and the atmosphere they sense around them. If a school is actively teaching about reducing the amount of materials we use, and about recycling them, combined with showing creative ways to play with objects and reuse them or turn them into other things, then the message will get through, in a moral, creative, and sensitive manner.
Encouraging the young at all ages to recycle the plastic bottle they drank out of during the day, by dropping it into the recycling bin by the school gate as they go home, is a good strategy too!
Continuing the Lesson: Recycling at HomeAs well as school, the child's experience of home is crucial to their future development. If there is waste, big bags of rubbish constantly being created and thrown out, and a lack of care shown to the wider environment, then how will that child turn out? Maybe he or she will idly dump litter by the side of the road, or be the menace who tips the old fridge into the woods, where it slowly leaks poisons into the earth and is an eyesore for everyone else? Stark images, but potential scenarios if this culture of the three r's, coupled with a custodianship of the environment isn't nurtured in the home.
Also, not only the kids - adults must keep educating themselves and each other in the home too – the TV can show some useful environmental programmes as well as the usual mind-numbing rubbish!
Educating the Wider World: Recycling in the CommunityThere are plenty of resources available to learn about and educate about recycling. This website is a good start, and many other websites offer specific information about places and materials; books are available, leaflets – try your local Council or library for these, and experts who will come and give talks to schools and community groups. It is possible to visit landfill sites, recycling centres, and even paper pulpers and plastic, glass or metal re-processors. The management of these places are usually delighted to show an interested group around the site - get together a group, rather than go on your own, and out of courtesy, do phone in advance.
The most important thing, as well as doing recycling, is talking about the issues. Share your thoughts, worries, experience – make everyone you know aware of the issues ... become an educating evangelist for recycling!