Education in any realm is important for changing oneself as well as the community in which we live. Education is the only way that people can build the knowledge to affect any change. I am not merely referring to the learning of facts and theorems but more critically, learning how to effectively question, explore and think about issues, change one’s mind (and the minds of others), innovate and create.
Environmental awareness and environmental education allow for children to take back the power in their homes and communities. Many of us (as well as our parents) were not given the gift of this knowledge, resulting in a lot of damage being done daily to our environment. Many of our general views and habits are as outdated as doctors promoting smoking during pregnancy; with many people still feeling that it is perfectly fine to leave chewing gum on the ground or drop litter where they are standing.
As the biggest role models in our children’s lives, we as adults, need to change our habits to help enforce the education being given at school. It is harder to change the older you are, but nothing worthwhile comes easy. Have the conversations, explain what and why you are doing things and ask in what way your child would like to adjust your habits as a family. This allows children to be involved with their family decisions around being caring and responsible citizens.
It is naïve to think that we are not affected by poor choices. You may live in a clean suburb, that recycles and has litter picked up regularly etc but the reality is that the more waste we create the more poison leaches into our water systems, our food and our bodies. Whether we buy that food from a high end supermarket with a great reputation or whether we buy it from a farmer in Limpopo – the fact remains, if we poison our planet we are only poisoning ourselves. The more we waste the less we all have. The more we rely on artificial replacements to healthy and natural solutions the more we expose ourselves to cancers and other illnesses. The way we live, from our consumption levels, to our waste, to the economic divide is not sustainable and is not in any way beneficial in the long run.
We as individuals need to start setting the example, we need to be more conscious about what we feed our children and ourselves. Finding out where our products, food and clothes come from. We need to listen to the new knowledge our children bring home. Being willing to question yourself and make one small change at a time will ultimately be the biggest change in our community. Putting pressure on our peers and the businesses we support, to make smarter more sustainable choices will make a vast impact to our lives directly.
Above all be a great role model for those around you, listen to the knowledge your children have to offer and be conscious in your actions.
Start small, make one change at a time and be the example that we lack around us.
Some minor changes you could make that could make a world of difference:
- Turn the tap off while brushing your teeth
- Always throw any litter in the bin (including cigarette butts and chewing gum)
- Recycle what you can when you can
- Minimise waste by only buying what you need
- Instead of buying bottled water, save on plastic and use a refillable water bottle
- Take your own bags to the shops
- Buy items that use recyclable/biodegradable packaging (and recycle it)
- Use your own coffee travel mug instead of using a takeaway cup
- Say no to plastic straws and cutlery that are not needed
- Buy cleaning products that are not harmful to our water systems
By Sara Labuschagne, Teacher at Crawford Preparatory Fourways