Young children are often negligent about seeing where all the waste and dirt gets collected. Well, according to them, someone has to make it vanish right? Helping them to understand that all of this gets collected at landfills, and later takes up a lot of space on the earth, could probably make them mull over this thought. Where is all this going?

It is an influential factor for teachers and parents to make children responsible and sensible about practicing the three golden R’s- Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Why do these terms matter? It matters because we need the earth to sustain our future generations.

Why teach them so young?

With the environment degrading at a rapid rate, the health of the planet is at risk. To instill the thought of conserving our environment, children can learn little ways of preserving nature. By learning about the concepts of reducing, reusing, and recycling materials, they make a substantial effort to save the face of mother earth.

Starting with the basics, teachers should make students cultivate judicious habits like saving water, switching off lights and fans when not in use, avoiding food wastage, and switching to paper bags instead of plastic. Small habits, when taught with deliberated causes, can go a long way, especially with the growing mind of children. Always encourage them to understand the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need’. The trivial actions that they practice, will give them a clear judgment of conserving the environment.

How can teachers help?

They say, teach them young. Also, set good examples that children can follow. Inculcating the habit through fun practices can urge children to make the right choices as they grow older.

Here are a few interesting ways to get your student to remember the 3 Rs.

Tips to REDUCE

  • Electricity- When there is no one using lights, fans, or air conditioners, ask your students to switch it off. Teach them the importance of saving energy.
  • Sustainable products- Motivate children to switch to paper products instead of plastic. Tell them why paper is more useful than plastic, and definitely, why plastic is not a ‘friendly’ item.
  • Paper being a vital commodity in the classroom, can be reused. How about using both sides of the paper, instead of turning a new leaf?
  • Walk when you can- By this, we mean saving fuel. Encourage children to walk to nearby playgrounds or their schools, rather than travelling in their own vehicles. If travel is necessary, opt to come by school bus or public transport, which also saves fuel.
  • Eat only what you can- This goes a long way in reducing food waste. Buy snacks or food with less packaging as it saves packaging material.

How to REUSE

  • Children can outgrow clothes and shoes at a rapid pace. Instead of throwing it away, find people in need. Donate the clothes and shoes in good condition to charity groups or people in need. From this, children would learn two virtues- Reusing and charity.
  • Often, many things come as packaged goods or containers. Teachers can teach students to reuse such packaging materials to create simple classroom objects. For example, an egg tray can be used as planters.
  • Encourage students to use refillable pens or colour pens instead of buying a new one every time.
  • Old books can be donated to the school library for other students.
  • Reuse wrapping paper for the next academic year, if it is still in good condition.
  • For old school bags, children can use it to store their sports goods or even carry it as an extra kit for their physical education classes.

And finally, RECYCLE

  • Before all else, teach students to segregate classroom (or home) waste materials into recyclable and non-recyclable categories. Keep separate bins for each.
  • Fascinate students by teaching them to use old notebooks or cloth pieces to make bags and rugs.
  • Encourage students to set up a food composter where food scrap and green wastes can go in.
  • Conduct recycling activities and projects for students at least once a month, so as to keep a record of their learning progress.

Teachers, be sure to cover the basics. Some students might find it difficult to comprehend at the start, but showing videos or demonstrating through activities is a great way to get them started. By doing so, they can make a substantial change in the depleting environment.

The three R’s are all about instructing students to minimise the consumption of natural resources, using resources sensibly, and making new resources through old ones. These small actions can be a daily activity for a classroom too, marking a huge step towards sustainability. Long story short, teach students to make good use of anything and everything.