Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Recycling and Climate Change!

All those green boxes are out on my street today and pretty much every household seems to have one, which is a great sign!  Recycling is one of the success stories when it comes to reducing our ecological footprint. 
However, there’s always room for improvement and awareness of the reasons for recycling can inspire kids to continue the habit as they march through tweendom and beyond! 
Comprehending the causes of climate change can be quite exhausting!  It is complex!  But there are some basic scientific facts that can help kids understand the intricate balance of this beautiful planet upon which we live! 
·      The natural greenhouse effect is crucial for maintaining an optimum temperature for life on earth and is created by the accumulation of gases way up in the atmosphere.  These gases trap the sun’s heat from totally escaping back out into space – kind of like a greenhouse!
·      Some of the naturally occurring greenhouse gases are: water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and chlorinated fluorocarbons!
·      Human-generated gas emissions are mostly of carbon dioxide, but human practices, such as large hydro-electric dam projects and landfills, also increase methane emissions – not to mention the large herds of cows and sheep passing wind!
NOAA’s website has a complete guide to global warming:

What does recycling have to do with the climate?  Recycling and waste reduction are related to climate change because the energy that is used to process new materials, such as glass, paper and plastic, involves burning fossil fuels such as gasoline and coal which are both major sources of carbon dioxide.  Landfills also produce methane as waste material compounds, generating heat; in some countries this waste is collected and used as a bio-fuel.  This article from the EPA shows how we can efficiently capture waste and reuse it efficiently.

OK, how about some fun!  The Recycling Boogie song and lyrics is up on my MySpace page at: http://www.myspace.com/iirainbowdolphin

I was looking for some stories about recycling and then I thought, wait a minute, how about asking the kids to imagine their own journey as a plastic bottle?  How is plastic made?  And for a really good geography lesson, ask the kids to find out where bauxite comes from – that is the main ingredient in aluminum soda pop cans.

If you haven’t already seen it, the Story of Stuff is definitely worth sharing with older kids – 7+  http://www.storyofstuff.com/
Recycling toys, clothes and other household items is really important too, its not just the plastic, paper and glass.  Most cities have hazardous waste collections for household paints, batteries and other toxic substances.

For younger children 4-8, try out the Earth to Rosie! Footprint Game at

Have fun!

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