Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sara Rose's Take: Getting Everyone Involved in Recycling

Since we're fast approaching Earth Day, I want to talk about recycling, more specifically how we recycle in this household.  In Vermillion, until the last 2 years, our recycling plant was fairly limited in what could get recycled.  What was exciting is that they had drop off points throughout Vermillion, so you could drop off your recycling throughout the week.  When we voted last November, Vermillion passed city wide regulations that all households be provided with recycling bins to be picked up weekly.  Unfortunately, we live right outside of city limits, so we still have to drop ours off.  There is a drop off right about a block away from us, so it's not too much of a hardship.

Recycling is something I place high priority on in this household.  The easiest way I have gotten our family involved was to have a can or box for each type of thing that we can recycle and to ingrain in all of our minds "Plastics go here!" "Paper goes here!" "Compost goes there!"- you get the drift.  I taught our daughter as soon as she was able to get it, plus I'm weirdly lucky- she likes helping with cleaning, organizing, and recycling.  This is no habit I'm going to discourage, that's for certain!

Eva has gotten to the point that if she sees one of us accidentally put a soda can in the garbage, she'll go retrieve it and lecture us on the harm we're doing to the environment.  Tee hee!  I love it that she remembers this and is committed to it.  We explained recycling very simply, in the beginning.  "Just like we are nice to everybody we can be, we have to be nice to the earth.  Recycling is being nice because it helps us reuse things we already got from the earth, instead of takings things away from it.  You don't like things taken away from you, think how the earth must feel!"  That explanation stuck.

Now that Eva is older, she asks very specific questions about what happens during recycling certain items and what happens if you can't recycle something.  I adore her interest in being eco-conscious and I hope it lasts.  I'm fairly sure that having parents who are also that way sets a good example.

I'm proud that Eva is also interested in learning more ways to be earth friendly.  She helps me turn off lights and appliances before we go anywhere.  When it's really nice outside, she reminds me to turn off the ac or heater and throw open some windows and curtains. She's slowly trying to help her little brother put things where they need to go for recycling.  Best of all, she is PUMPED for gardening. She LOVES helping us compost, I think because she actually gets to witness how food and leaves turn back into dirt for us to use in our gardens.

The last couple years, we helped her plant her own strawberry patch.  She got to help water it, pick weeds, and taste homegrown strawberries.  She also understands the importance we place on using as many all natural cleaning and household products as we can.  She helps me go through rooms to donate and/or recycle items, she helps me organize old shirts and such to cut into rags, and Nolan even did a science project with her to help our toilets use less water.  She sees me mending tears in clothing, blankets, etc., instead of throwing them out and buying new things.

I really want my kids to know the value of an ecologically sustainable lifestyle.  I want them to think of it as necessary, natural, normal, and most importantly 'the best way to do things'.  Eva understands that we aren't rich but that we have to do our part to make sure that we help the environment and save money by doing so.  I may simplify my answers to her questions but I also show her proof of how important living an environmentally conscious lifestyle is.  I have shown her both our gas bill and our electric bill and explained "This is how much we pay for using up these things.  If we use less of these things, we not only help the earth, but we help ourselves by saving money."

When we go for our evening walks, we often bring a bag with us and pick up bits of garbage that has found it's way into our yard and onto our street.  Eva will have a bag for things we can recycle and I will have a bag for what we cannot.  When she asked why, I said "Trash hurts the earth and makes it less beautiful.  You wouldn't cover yourself in garbage, and we shouldn't cover the earth with it either."

I am proud that we try to live this lifestyle.  It's not always easy but I hope we inspire our kids and maybe their kids too that inaction is the worse thing you can do to the earth.  I hope they see what value we place on the earth and our lives by how we live.  Then, I hope they pass it on.

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