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Monday, June 9, 2008

Kids and Nature

I wanted to talk a little bit about why I like to recycle even though it only makes a tiny dent in the waste stream.
I have always wanted to recycle. For a long time I collected and saved aluminum cans to get money, for cigarettes usually.
After I had my daughter,Audrey, I was at my mom's telling her my system of double wrapping diapers so they wouldn't stink up the trash. My mom gave me a guilt trip about how awful disposable diapers are, and how I was only ensuring that the diapers I throw out won't decompose in my lifetime.She said she thought there were more disposable diapers in landfills than anything else. The over use of them in my generation only compounded the problem of waste. At first I thought, "aren't we high on our horse, for someone who doesn't even recycle?" Then I thought, "well, I don't recycle either! Who am I to defend it?"
So, to offset my disposable diaper use, I began to recycle. It has been two years, and I have to admit, I let it pile up sometimes but I refuse to throw it out. And, every time I drop off the recycling, I feel good. I feel like I did something that day, and maybe I am making some tiny difference. I saw the difference in the way we can't fill up our curbside dumpster every week, we only fill about 2 garbage bags. Before, we had to leave the lid open to fit it all in. And it just makes me feel like we are a little less wasteful than we were.
What I love most about recycling is that it is contagious! My mom is starting to recycle, and my closest friend, Jen, from California also does. Jen also switched to CFL's and is making strides every day to find new ways to reduce waste and be more green. My son, Chas, won't throw his "pack lunch" trash away, because he knows that it is recyclable. He brings home sticky juice bottles and his plastic spoon, so I can wash it and use it again! It is really cute to see a seven year old pick up on recycling so easily, and never even think that throwing his trash away at school would be more convenient. I never asked him to bring it back home...he just knows it is the right thing to do.
It doesn't hurt to teach your children values that they will constantly remind you of if you slip up. (like wearing your seat belt) Children very easily adapt to what you teach them is right, and they hold on to the values for life. You have to lead by example. Like my mom, who didn't begin to recycle until I started to complain that she taught me that it is good to be good to Mother Nature (and your mother!)

In a way I can say that I have made a difference already, not because I take huge bags of garbage and sort them in their appropriate receptacles at the recycling center but because I am fostering a new generation of recyclers in hopes there will still be an earth to save, when my kids are at my age, and perhaps they will teach their children these values as well. As for friends and family, I just ask that they recycle at my house and hopefully they will take the initiative to start at home.

I enjoy teaching kids that we don't have to throw away everything we are done using, we can reuse it. That so many things in this world are renewable, if we take the time to renew them. Things that can't be used again should be recycled and their material used. Kids sometimes have an instinct for making good sense. So I can at least take comfort in the thought that my kids will already have the good habit of taking care of the planet and reducing their negative impact.

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