(succulents planted in re-purposed tin cans - make sure you punch drainage holes in the bottom ... actually succulents are great to grow because they grow from leaves or cuttings and pups quite easily! And they're hardy and easy to care for!)
Ok, this is my take on sustainability. It gets bandied about in the early childhood sector these days quite a bit. But really, what does it mean and what should be do about it.
Well. I don’t think it means throwing out your plastic toys and replacing them with toys made from natural materials. It’s not about buying toys labelled as “eco” or “sustainable” from toy catalogues. Just because its labelled sustainable, doesn’t make it so!
What is sustainability? According to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH):
"There is no simple definition of 'sustainability'. It can be an idea, a property of living systems, a manufacturing method or a way of life. In fact, there may be as many definitions of sustainability as there are people trying to define it.
However, most definitions include:
■l iving within the limits of what the environment can provide
■ understanding the many interconnections between economy, society and the environment
■ the equal distribution of resources and opportunities."
So, with that in mind, I’ve come up with a random list off the top of my head ...
So what are some ideas for being sustainable? Some of them you might already be doing, but just articulate it a bit better in your QIP, with the children, and to the team!
· Use recycled paper for drawings: get families to donate paper that’s been used once, to re-use again at your service one more time!
· Use recycled gift wrap for collage – encourage families, staff, community members to donate wrapping paper from festivities or special occasions! Perfect for collage.
· Use old children’s books, that aren’t good enough to read any more – run through a shredder and use them in collage. Or cut them up into bits – make sure that the children just don’t use their scissors on books that are still good! That’s why the shredder is great.
· Use old magazines for collage – images that aren’t entirely appropriate for the children – such as advertisements that might have a bit too much leg or cleavage – are also amazing through a shredder.
· Recycle all used paper.
· Recycle in EVERY area of the centre – from the children’s rooms to the staff room and kitchen! If you proclaim that you’re sustainable and you don’t get your team to recycle in the staff room, well, that just looks lazy and superficial.
· Avoid products with excess packaging.
· If you’re a service where the children bring their own food – ban excess packaging in lunches and snacks. Encourage parents to have small re-usable containers. You can buy BPA free plastics from Kmart which are uber affordable!
· Use food boxes in your home corner as resources (I did a post on this!).
· Use old food that is out of date, in plastic (yeah I know, not sustainable perse BUT safe for children of all ages to use).
· Use recycled furniture from the Salvos, St. Vinnies and other opportunity shops.
· Get families to donate old clothes for dress-ups or buy them from the op-shops.
· Grow vegetables!
· Grow veggies in raised garden beds (search for No-dig-gardens)
· Grow veggies and herbs in containers! Recycled containers even! I’ve used old water troughs, plastic tubs, buckets, pots from the side of the road ...
· Compost your scraps
· Have a worm farm
· If you have dogs or cats at home you can get special composts for their faeces – which keeps the waste local and out of the tip!
· Use low energy light globes.
· Use fans rather than air-conditioning.
· Keep your aircon at 24-27°C for summer cooling and 18-20°C for winter warming. It will save electricity and money and for every degree above or below you are using up to 10% more energy.
· Have plants inside! They’re great for air quality!
· Grow plants in your outdoor spaces! Make sure you’re not growing any that might be toxic to children!
· Get some chickens. They’re great for working the vegetable beds when they’re finished for the season before you add more veggies.
· Buy local where you can.
· Re-use items such as glass jars for paint pots! Other trays and containers for playdough, home corner, water play, sand play, mud play etc. Then when its served its purpose, recycle it!
I’m going to step up on the official Teacher’s Ink. Soapbox. I figure if we are going to be sustainable, we might as well go that extra step and become cruelty free as well. You know those industrial chemicals that organizations and companies often buy in bulk to clean their services? By something sustainable AND cruelty free! It’s good for the environment, it’s good for us, it’s good for the children! You can even talk about it ... you know palm oil? They destroy thousands of acres of rainforest to plant palms for oil and Orangutans are killed in the process – not to mention they don’t have a home at the end of it anyway. So, if you discussed these matters with the children, you’d touch on so many different elements of the EYLF – well all of the outcomes could be covered. Now, I’m not suggesting that you do this lightly and I’m not suggesting that you show children images of tortured animals – but certainly teach them to be EDUCATED CONSUMERS who make informed choices! In fact, incorporate that into your food purchasing – boycott palm oil altogether!
Other Teacher's Ink. posts you might be interested in on this topic:
Ok. That’s enough! I need to sleep.
© Teacher’s Ink. 2013