Posts tagged ‘reuse’

April 22, 2014

Making an Environmental Commitment to Our Children

by Melissa Harding

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“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” – Fred Rogers

Earth Day is an annual reminder that as part of the natural world, it is our duty to be good stewards and help protect the planet on which we live. Not only does the Earth sustain us, but so too our children and their children – all future generations. Just as a community is only as healthy as its children, children are only as healthy as their environment. This space is dedicated to helping caregivers and educators create the next generation of successful, civically engaged citizens, a task largely made possible through creating connections with the people, places and green spaces that make up a community. Today is a good day to remember that we don’t conserve the environment for ourselves, but for those who come after us.

In honor of Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency is offering the Pick 5 Challenge – commit to at least five actions to reduce your resource use and celebrate the natural world. Check out the excellent links in the list below and try to find some options that you and your family can commit to for the next year.

Choose from actions related to:

At Home and in the Garden
At Work
At School
While Shopping
In Your Community
On the Road

“One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation.” – Fred Rogers

The above photo was taken by Cory Doman.

May 6, 2013

Repurpose Your Trash: High School Challenge #6 of the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps

by Melissa Harding

During the latest challenge of the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, participants were asked to fight against landfill waste by finding a new use for something that would otherwise be discarded. They were to create a prototype of a consumer product that is made entirely of household, school or other commonly found trash. They were also asked to describe what their item was, what it was made from and how it could be used. In total, 67 students participated in this challenge; they submitted purses, chairs, rugs, bird feeders and even a speaker system for an iPhone. All the entries were creative and well-designed; some of which are sure to have a future on the store shelf!

The first place entry, submitted by students from Moon Area High School, was a tiled mirror made of scrap plywood, pieces of glass bottle, and plastic cups.

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The second place entry, submitted by Moon Area High School, was a purse made of fused plastic bags.

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The third place entry, submitted by Gateway High School, was a iPhone amplifier system made of a toilet paper tube and plastic drinking cups.

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Honorable Mention, submitted by North Allegheny High School, was a rug woven out of plastic bags.

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Each of these winning entries was crafted to be sturdy, useful and even attractive. Though only a few of the entries could win, all the participants are winners for finding new and creative uses for discarded materials! By reconsidering our resource uses, together we can create a more sustainable future.

If you would like to learn more about how our department repurposes discarded materials in our programming, check out our April Home Connections series on cardboard, plastic and glass.

Check out the slide show below to see more entries:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The above pictures were taken by Kate Borger.

April 22, 2013

Making an Environmental Commitment to Our Children

by Melissa Harding

 Phipps Science Education_Little Sprouts Seasons (9)

“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say, ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.” – Fred Rogers

Earth Day is an annual reminder that as part of the natural world, it is our duty to be good stewards and help protect the planet on which we live. Not only does the Earth sustain us, but so too our children and their children – all future generations. Just as a community is only as healthy as its children, children are only as healthy as their environment. This space is dedicated to helping caregivers and educators create the next generation of successful, civically engaged citizens, a task largely made possible through creating connections with the people, places and green spaces that make up a community. Today is a good day to remember that we don’t conserve the environment for ourselves, but for those who come after us.

In honor of Earth Day, the US Environmental Protection Agency is offering the Pick 5 Challenge – commit to at least five actions to reduce your resource use and celebrate the natural world. Check out the excellent links in the list below and try to find some options that you and your family can commit to for the next year.

carn plantChoose from actions related to:

At Home and in the Garden
At Work
At School
While Shopping
In Your Community
On the Road

Did you find a new way that you can reduce, reuse or recycle? Please share your resolutions in the comments below.

“One of the greatest dignities of humankind is that each successive generation is invested in the welfare of each new generation.” – Fred Rogers

The above photos were taken by Melissa Harding and Molly Steinwald.

February 1, 2013

Environmental Action: Middle School Challenge #3 in the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps

by Melissa Harding

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During the latest challenge of the Fairchild Challenge at Phipps, 430 middle school students participated in a month-long sustainability challenge to take a closer look at their resource use. In this challenge, each student chose one positive environmental behavior to implement in their lives for a month; they also had to involve at least one family member. Many students involved their entire families in activities such as unplugging unused cell phone chargers, using both sides of a piece of paper, recycling, carpooling, and turning off the lights. Each school submitted a book of one-page essays by up to twenty students. Some schools had entire classes participate!

The winning school, Mellon Middle School, had 104 students complete the challenge. Their essays feature students who started vermicomposting and composting, walking to school and using reusable bags. One student convinced her mother to join her in timing their showers to a short five minutes each. She writes, “Never once had I thought about how my actions would affect the environment in, in fact, a negative way. I was wasting water without even taking a minute to ponder upon my procedures. Once taking charge in the act to help prevent water wasting, I established how truly wonderful it feels to be an assistance to the world”. Another student starting taking a lunchbox instead of using a paper lunch bag. She writes that her school uses 120 trash bags per week, a quarter of which are full of lunch bags. She convinced her three siblings to all use lunch bags, saving twenty bags a week! A third student, who won an honorable mention for his wonderful essay, decided with his father to eat organic, healthy food.  Not only did this make a change for the environment, but also for his father’s health. He writes, “A while ago, my dad was told that he had to be on a certain medication for the rest of his life. Amazingly, this wasn’t the case. After only a few months of eating no processed foods, no bread, no sugar and only organic foods, his symptoms began to disappear”.

The second place winner, Woodland Hills Middle School, also had some amazing essays. In one essay, entitled Turn Off Lights? Watt?, a student convinced her family to help her turn off the lights when leaving a room. She was so impressed by the results that she resolved in her essay to start making many small changes in all different areas of her life. Another student convinced his family to lower the thermostat by nine degrees at night and use blankets instead. A third started weighing his family’s trash every week! One student writes, after convincing her family to use reusable grocery bags, “My family actually realizes that it feels good to reduce, reuse, recycle. People should shop more at stores like Aldi where you have to reuse bags…If we all use reusable bags for even a week, we could keep thousands of bags out of landfills.”

Several other great essays featured limiting bottled water consumption, taking public transportation and reducing water use. Many of them connected their resource use to other parts of the world and social justice issues, like hunger and thirst. One student from Schaffer Elementary writes, “Kids in Africa could be using that water to drink, shower, etc., but we used it all up for ourselves. Half of the time we’re using it when there was no need to. So, therefore, I stopped doing things to hurt the environment.” Others found that their actions saved the family a measurable amount on their utility bills and instilled a sense of accomplishment. Most importantly, many of them committed to continuing their actions and even starting new ones!

While the judges picked the winning essays, it is clear that all of these students are winners because they made a hard change and stuck with it. Students from Mellon Middle School will be interviewed on the Saturday Light Brigade this Saturday, February 2, at 10:05am. The Saturday Light Brigade can be heard every Saturday morning on WRCT 88.3 FM. It also streams live at slbradio.org where the interview will be archived under Neighborhood Voices.

The above image was taken by Christie Lawry.

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