Climate Change is happening. It is caused largely by human activity and will have many potentially damaging effects in the decades ahead.
Most people don’t realize that reducing, reusing, and recycling can help slow climate change. Every product has a life cycle, and every step from manufacturing to disposal causes greenhouse gas emissions. Every time you reduce waste by reducing, reusing and recycling, you help decrease the amount of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere.
These emissions, including carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, are currently in our atmosphere in high concentration levels. The gases greatly affect the planet’s climate system by acting like a blanket, trapping the sun’s warmth near the earth’s surface. Greenhouse gases stay in the atmosphere for a long time. Plants and oceans absorb carbon dioxide, but are unable to keep up with the amount people are presently releasing.
WAYS TO REDUCE GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS BY DECREASING WASTE
Reduce: Limit the amount of new stuff you buy. To further decrease waste, buy products less packaging.
Reuse: Donate items you no longer need to family, friends or charities so someone else can use them. Borrow or rent products you need only for a short time, such as baby clothes or strollers.
Recycle: Recycle what you can so materials like paper, bottles and cans can be collected and repurposed.Choose products made from recycled materials whenever you can.
ACTIVITIES TO ENCOURAGE CHILDREN TO HELP SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE
To reduce the amount of materials used:
- View information on a computer screen instead of printing copies.
- Purchase supplies with as little packaging as possible.
- Let your child pick a colorful reusable bag to bring to the supermarket for groceries
- Host “waste–free” lunch days at their school.
To reuse things instead of throwing them away:
- Print, copy, and write on both sides of a piece of paper.
- Encourage your children to share supplies they no longer need others. Bows and gift bags are especially easy to save and reuse later!
- Make hanging bird feeders out of empty milk jugs with your kids. Cut holes for feeding access, to insert perches and to attach a string for hanging the feeder; your children can add twigs or dowels for perches and fill the jugs with bird seed. They can decorate the feeders with nontoxic paint.
- Keep containers in a convenient location to collect items like paper, bottles and cans. Separate these items as required by your city.
- Keep a container under the kitchen sink to start saving food scraps. Collect items like eggshells and leafy greens that otherwise would be thrown away to use in the garden. Getting in the habit of composting adds nutrients to the garden and increases water retention and drainage of soil in addition to reducing waste.
- Donate old electronics like computers, keyboards, cell phones and rechargeable batteries. Many nonprofit organizations and communities offer options to help you recycle these items.
Have you taken your children to a local landfill to show them what happens to waste that is not recycled? The visual impact of huge areas full of trash goes a long way toward illustrating the importance of recycling and decreasing waste and how doing so will help slow climate change.