STUDENTS & SUSTAINABILITY NEWS FORUM:
Welcome to an environmental good news forum with sustainability tips for the classroom and home! Postings on the positive things kids and adults are doing to help the environment with additional student, school, and home tips and links to help make the learning day a little more sustainable. Although a zero waste world is impossible, working toward lowering waste is achievable...and fun! (Kellogg, 2019, p. xi).
GOOD NEWS TIP 15: Needing to find a place to donate old, used towels and blankets or even old pet supplies? Ms. Kidd will take them off your hands and drive them to the animal shelter and Long Beach Spay Neuter Foundation. Donating to repurpose items instead of throwing them away is super sustainability!
GOOD NEWS TIP 14: One of the biggest challenges in my zero-waste journey is seeing and contributing to all the waste from my own school classroom. I even have a classroom waste management project waiting for students to learn from. The 'straight to landfill' bin towers over the recycling and reusables bins. Ugh! How is that possible? We were always taught that plastic containers are recyclable. Well...not exactly. Most plastic created is NOT recyclable. The plastic that we think is recyclable is truly only able to be up-cycled, not recycled. This means a specific type of plastic cannot be made into itself over and over. Few plastics are able to be made into other plastics a couple times until they are no longer able to be up-cycled. The next destination: a landfill.
Some good news: there are programs that can help with the "straight-to-landfill" plastic school supply containers. Here are two of my current favorites:
1) Terra Cycle
Please inquire with Ms. Kidd if any parent is interested in helping to start a Terra Cycle or Crayola classroom program. I would love to partner up with you all!
GOOD NEWS TIP 13: Currently, 'Covid Cleaning' is part of our everyday life. With all the cleaners being sprayed throughout the classroom and home, I feel as though breathing in the chemicals is affecting my lungs in a negative way. Kids' brain functions are being affected from trying to stay clean. Recently, I discovered a cleaning product that uses NO CHEMICALS and yet is one of the best anti-bacterial methods. No cleaners are needed. No plastic bottle-waste. Although I am typically not a fan of micro-fibers, as they are fibers made from plastics, using Norwex Baclock cleaning cloths have changed my life! They are super fine bacteria-removing cloths (viruses live off of bacteria) that only need water to clean. No spray chemicals are needed. There are cool kids' products as well. Check out the website below or visit 'LINKS'.
GOOD NEWS TIP 12: Looking ahead to the seasons changing gets us prepared for future sunny weather. However, in Southern California our sunny days are common even in the winter. Although the sun is not as powerful, we still need to be slathering our students in sunscreen so they remain protected during their outside playtime. Being mindful that although sunscreen is important, it is equally important to choose the safest products that wont harm our children's health nor the environment.
Oxybenzone and Octinoxate are commonly found in many sunscreens. They have been tested and proven to be harmful to human and environmental health. Natural minerals like zinc oxide are always a safer choice. Great news! It is easier to find SPF products with natural and safe ingredients...such as SPF from Beauty Counter. Read up for yourself to learn more...
Beauty Counter Link to Safe Sun Protection:
GOOD NEWS TIP 11: "Green washing" is all too common these days, and even Ms. Kidd is fooled from time to time. Green washing is when a company sees an opportunity to lure environmentally-conscience people into thinking their product is better for the environment. The front label of a product is meant to lure us. The ingredients and packaging may tell a different story. Getting to know better-choice ingredients is key. Green washed products often come in labels with...you guessed it, green-colored labels. Words such as: Green, Natural, Eco-Friendly, etc. are not environmentally confirmed nor reliable. And remember, plastic is not a perfectly recyclable material. Once recycled 1-3 times, the plastic is broken down too much and into a landfill it goes!
There are safer and healthier packaging materials that are 100% recyclable! Glass and aluminum are 100% recyclable. With reusable containers, kids don't have to throw away single-use plastics, and those reusable containers do not leach toxic chemicals within plastics. When it comes to ingredients, look for LESS and UNDERSTANDABLE ingredient words. Ingredient lists should never be the length of a novel...wink!
Instead of: "eco-friendly" cleaners...try these kid-friendly DIYs:
-water, vinegar, oil of oregano (oregano oil has been found to be more antiviral than alcohol)
-water, Castile soap, baking soda
-Norwex (Norwex, n.d.) non-disposable microfiber wipes use with water only
*store cleaning mixtures in a reusable glass spray bottle and use with a cotton cloth or microfiber cloth made from recycled plastic to clean
GOOD NEWS TIP 10: In such critical times of needing to maintain a sanitary yet wasteful way of life, I have been able to step up my Earth-friendly options in other areas. As I am unable to reuse egg crates and berry boxes at the farmer's markets, I can still reuse my own grocery bags as long as I toss them in the washing machine after each use. Latex-gloves are now in use...and in the trash; however, I am wearing a reusable face mask made by one of our court 16 room parents. After each use, I spray with alcohol-70%. Also, I am now using an Albatross safety razor instead of using plastic disposables. They have a great free up-cycling program too! Need some pure and perfect water for houseplants and adding water to almost used shampoo/conditioner and soap bottles? Look no further. I set out a clean bucket while it was raining and collected rain water. Bammmmmm, Super-Eco Kidd to the rescue!
Albatross Razors: www.albatrossdesigns.it
GOOD NEWS TIP 9: It's April, my favorite month...why? Earth Day, which is coming up on the 22nd! I'm so excited to continue sharing great classroom sustainability facts, ideas, and activities with students and parents. Even though we are all stuck in physical distancing, practicing environmentally-friendly living may still be a focus. I would like to share a great link to my favorite brick-and-mortar store that is now servicing its customers online with free shipping! "BYO Long Beach" (Bring Your Own) is a local favorite within its community. I shop there for almost all of my essential needs. I invite you to take a look. Happy browsing!
GOOD NEWS TIP 8: Only 9% of worldly plastic has been recycled since its conception. They sit in landfills creating toxic pollution in the ground and in our breathable air. Many plastics contaminate food and skin products just by being their container. Recycling is a better disposal than trashing; however, plastics can only be recycled a few times before they are unable to be recycled any further. Then they go to landfills. Here is a brief guide on plastic recycling triangle-numbers. Have you checked your containers lately? Your kids have!
Accepted in curbside bins:
Polyethylene (PETE) #1
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) #2
Polypropylene (PP) #5
Not accepted in curbside bins, but an industrial facility may/may not take. These plastics will go directly into a landfill:
Vinyl (PVC) #3
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE) #4: plastic bags: never place in recycling; it clogs and breaks machinery.
Polystyrene (PS) ("Styrofoam") #6: never recyclable
Plastic #7 (plastics mix): never recyclable
*Glass & aluminum cans & paper (non-shredded) are always recyclable.
(Broken: Recycling Sham, 2019), (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2015), (Kellogg, 2019)
*Refuse-Reduce-Reuse-Repair-Recycle: notice "recycle" is last on the list. Landfills do not depose materials, even organics like paper and food. Unfortunately, landfill environments are yucky storage grounds only due to a lack of oxygen, sunlight, and movement.
Court 16 students continue to learn options to bettering their health and environment. Reusing newspaper or a reusable is a more sustainable, healthy, and less expensive way to contain food, gifts, and other materials for our kids.
PARENT HELP: Court 16 is looking to start a class e-waste and CRV container collection project. All money earned from our recycling drop off, I will donate to our class funds. How exciting to earn extra money from a recycling drop off and do something amazing for the environment! Our DG garden is in need of a compost bin. Email Ms. Kidd if you are interested in volunteering for any of the listed opportunities. See the City of RHE's e-watse list for details in the link below. Go Team Earth-16!
GOOD NEWS TIP 7: Organic food matter (plant waste) when shown away into landfills contributes to 30% of methane gasses released into our atmosphere. Schools are a large contributor due to all the fruits and veggies kids toss into the trash. It has been relayed that there is a compost bin on the Dapplegray campus,: however, it needs to be relocated to our garden lesson area in order for it to be of use. We are in need of teachers, parents, and students to help relocate and maintain so that food waste may be composted into nutrient-rich soil for all to use. Ms. Kidd also has a vermin-compost bin (worm bin) that she uses for her students to gain some real-life science strategies and skills. Email Ms. Kidd if you would like to participate. We need parent-support!
GOOD NEWS TIP 6: School trash is filled with metal staples, glue sticks, pens and pencils, none of which come in recyclable packaging or containers. Can you imagine how long school supplies stay in landfills? There are alternatives galore for more environmentally friendly school supplies! Here are a few items I have come across: pencils, pens, and paper clincher (stapler). See Edlio LINKS.
Glue is a sticky subject! Along with most other school materials, glue sticks are wasteful. The plastic container alone is not recyclable. They sit in landfills for hundreds of years emitting toxic gases. The glue itself is made from a combination of polyvinyl acetate (PVA), water, ethanol, acetone and other substances (Mixer Direct, n.d.). Anything with the name "poly" is...you guessed it, plastic. Plastic never goes away.
*Please let me know if you find a better alternative for our typical classroom glue.
GOOD NEWS TIP 5: It has been relayed that the City of RHE has suspended Dapplegray's recycling due to an over-abundance of trash contamination. Basically kids were placing too much trash and non-recycling materials in the recycling cans. This is a problem because waste management recycling workers are unable to place time sorting through trash. Their focus is the sorting of recycling materials. This creates a bigger problem because schools are a large landfill contributor. This is a problem that can be solved quickly through the help of teachers, staff, and parents! Step ideas to success:
***Contact your school principal, district administrators, and your children's teachers about ideas to regaining our recycling pick-up, your role on involvement, and educating our students. These are life skills for our children!
1. educate parents and staff about the recycling process
2. educate children what materials may be recycled and why
3. posters to remind students what can be recycled
4. reinforcement of recycling procedures and materials
Materials that may be recycled from schools:
*BOTTLES, CANS, PAPER, CARDBOARD may only be placed in recycling cans.
*Bottles and cans need to be rinsed/emptied to be free of liquid/food
*Cardboard and paper need to be soiled-free from food
*e-waste should be collected separately as a community drive to get our students involved with community service
*raw food scraps/waste needs to be placed in compost bins, not trash cans (food waste creates 30% methane gasses released into our atmosphere) (Cunningham & Cunningham, 2015).
GOOD NEWS TIP 4: Schools are a place of massive waste. We can reduce the amount of waste we make by choosing better products for our children. Choosing cardboard over plastic is a great place to start. Lucky for us, we have choices! Cardboard or paper folder and notebook covers are key. If using a poly (plastic) folder, reusing the folder yearly will reduce the amount of plastic-waste that goes into our landfills...and lessen your school supply expense. A win-win! Rolling Hills Estates, Dapplegray's home city, has super Waste Management online services and information. Feel free to approach our PTA and student council with innovative ideas that may help better our school's Earth-friendly environment. Starter ideas: e-waste collections, plastic bag collections, compostable food scrap collections. Go Team!
GOOD NEWS TIP 3: Want to know which single-use plastics are recyclable? Just ask your eco-expert child! We learned about distinguishing recyclables from non-recyclables from our single-use classroom supply's wrapping. Court 16 is keeping track of waste through it classroom waste project. We practice the 5 Rs: refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, & recycle (in order of importance).
GOOD NEWS TIP 2: Dapplegray has joined the rest of PVP's elementary schools' garden program. We now have a campus garden with the program's garden experts teaching monthly lessons. We are even equipped with a campus compost system. A dream come true! I look forward to getting dirty!
GOOD NEWS TIP 1: Schools are infamous for plastic bag trash. "Cal Tiffin" reusable lunch containers are a safe way to store food for a child's health and the environment. See the "LINKS" section of Ms. Kidd's Edlio. Dapplegray is now equipped with water bottle refill stations. Replace purchasing single-use plastic water bottles with one stainless steel water bottle that keeps water cold all day without refrigeration. Unlimited refills at Dapplegray! Bottle refill stations are located at drinking fountains. See the "LINKS" section of Ms. Kidd's Edlio.
Cunningham, W. & Cunningham, M.A. (2015). Environmental science: A global concern. New York, NY: McGraw Hill Education.
Elmers Product, Inc. (2013). Elmers introduces first school glue made from natural ingreients. Cision: PR Newswire. Retrieved from: https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/elmers-introduces-first-school-glue-made-from-natural-ingredients-200905731.html
Kellogg, K. (2019). 101 ways to go zero waste. New York, New York: Countrymen Pres.
Kellogg, K. (n.d.). Going zero waste. Retrieved from: www.goingzerowaste.com.
Mixer Direct. (n.d.). How glue is made. Retrieved from: https://www.mixerdirect.com/blogs/mixer-direct-blog/how-glue-is-made
Netflix (2019). Broken: recycling sham. Retrieved from: www.netflix.com
Norwex. (n.d.). Retrieved from: norwex.biz