If I were a school kid here in Australia, or the parent of one, this would be a very exciting week.
August 24 – 30 has been nominated as the fifth annual Enviroweek. It’s a country-wide educational event that schools can choose to participate in, and it’s geared towards teaching children everyday actions that make living more sustainable and nature friendly. And it’s really, really cool.
There are six challenges that children can participate in, and they’re created so that teachers can complement existing classroom activities with them. These challenges focus on recycling, waste, green spaces, energy, nutrition, exercise and well-being. Each challenge is introduced by a cute character, it lists the actions children can take and explains why these actions are good for the environment and their own wellbeing.
For example, the Waste Warrior challenges children to be “waste wise” and take actions such as avoiding plastic wrapping for their lunch or switching from bottled water to a reusable drinking container. In the process kids learn about the detrimental effects of plastic pollution and learn about the impact individual choices can achieve to make a difference.
Other challenges include the Green Thumb for growing and caring for a green space, such as a veggie patch in the schoolyard. The Foodie encourages kids to bring fresh fruit and veggies for lunch rather than opt for packaged snacks, thus helping eliminate both packaging waste and unhealthy food choices from their everyday meals.
The best part is the clever way children get to experience the impact of their choices. Every action taken within a challenge earns children savings of ‘black balloons,’ which are representations of carbon dioxide equivalent saved after, say, avoiding plastic bags for one week.
Each school registers the number of children working on the challenges they choose to participate in, and how many black balloons they are trying to save. The Enviroweek website gathers data on all the black balloons saved, giving kids a very real sense of participation and the scale of impact an individual choice can make — if enough kids do the same. Right now they’ve already saved 5,905,248 black balloons. Great work.
I absolutely love this idea to bits. And, if you’re as excited as I am and your local school isn’t participating this year, perhaps you can tell them about it, and next year they can indoctrinate your child into sustainability as well.