Climate Change & Education | US Botanic Garden in DC

Washington (GGM) Analysis
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

With Italy’s official announcement at the beginning of the new year, that all schools will now teach sustainability & climate change, many American educators are looking for ways to incorporate climate change lesson plans into their curriculum.

This is a big deal. Education will curb the fears that many young students harbor when they hear repeated warnings about the future. News flashes on phones about apocalyptic wildfires that killed a billion animals, and destroyed thousands of homes, is massively anxiety provoking. Lack of information fuels their concern, and action oriented facts curb it.

With this in mind, it was very exciting to see the impactful event at the US Botanic Garden on Capitol Hill Thursday evening January 30, 2020 for teachers in the Washington DC and outlying suburbs. Interactive tables, featuring climate change lesson plans, were spread throughout the breathtaking flora. Sustainability, the environment and nature were also included. Very inspiring. Nature itself is therapeutic. Studying nature along with climate action will improve the mental health of our youth as we rush to adapt to the crushing reality of the climate crisis.

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Modeling the importance of composting was powerful, especially on Capitol Hill where Mitch McConnell is blocking compositing in the dining halls in the Senate and House office buildings.

The following are several of the innovative lesson plans featured at the event:

  • Renewables and Nonrenewables, Oh My!
  • Waste Less, Recycle More
  • Greenhouse Manual by the US Botanic Garden: “exploring ways to incorporate a greenhouse as a hands-on learning environment for students of all ages.”
  • School Tree Planting Program
  • Native Knowledge, Teaching America’s Whole Story – created by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian
  • Living Earth Teach-In: Sustaining our Future through Indigenous Knowledge
  • Air Quality Action Guide
  • What You Should Know About Ground Level Ozone and Particle Pollution
  • An Educators Guide to the Meaningful Watershed Educational Experience (MWEE)
  • Oh, and creating seed pizzas that will make spring planting so much easier (this was amazing)

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Let’s Commit to Zero Waste in 2020 | It’s Very Simple

Washington (GGM) Analysis
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Let’s nail the waste scene as soon as possible. It’s not complicated. It just takes focus.

I began 2020 super jazzed to be living a circular economy life. I jumped in running the last three months of 2019, and was pumped to have it nearly perfected by December, which is when I successfully managed a zero waste month. I felt like I’d won an olympic gold medal, not to mention the excitement of having extra money in my pocket the way Wall Street geniuses always do.

Waste is something we can all manage on our own without being forced by laws. We just wake up one morning (tomorrow morning hopefully) and say, “I’m in!” And voila, we’re three quarters of the way there.

A zero waste life is about setting up a defined circular economy zone in our households where we can easily breakdown everything we consume so that it can quickly be turned around for multiple uses. The goal is:

  • Refuse
  • Reduce
  • Reuse
  • Recycle & Upcycle

Refuse is a big deal. We have the power to motivate businesses to do the right thing very effectively by refusing to buy certain products that create waste. For example, back at the beginning of October 2019, I made the decision to never buy ketchup packaged in plastic again. This was very difficult, because Heinz has cornered the market and there were no glass alternatives. I called Heinz, but Heinz refuses to sell ketchup packaged in glass the way they used to. So I made the bold decision to switch to BBQ sauce which is 85% packaged in glass.

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A month later, Red Duck created a brand new product, ketchup in glass. It’s delicious, so much healthier. And it’s organic too. Thank you, Red Duck! A responsive American corporation meeting consumer demand.

Additionally, I now use the recyclable paper towels made from bamboo that can be washed a hundred times. They dry on the counter so quickly. This has dramatically reduced our household waste.

Household kitchens should have multiple bins:

  • Composting for food scraps, coffee grounds and tea bags
  • Paper recycling
  • Plastic recycling
  • Glass recycling or reuse for storage containers, drinking glasses, vases, etc
  • Aluminum recycling

Once this is all set up, you’ll soon find that you have no garbage. It’s startling. On New Years Eve 2019, I lifted the lid and my garbage bin was completely empty.~

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Consumers Profit from Circular Economy

Washington (GGM) Analysis
NoreenProfilePicHillReport-75 by Noreen Wise

Finally, the era of consumer profit has arrived. We’ve certainly earned this ST-Saga-CovFrnt-72dpi-300
unexpected windfall after nearly two centuries of corporate greed destroying our hopes & dreams by restraining our financial ability to achieve them.

Now that our golden opportunity is upon us, let’s try and maximize the amazing possibilities so we can quickly increase our disposable income and apply this boost to health, education and long term goals.

A circular economy is created through the principals of Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. This requires a bit of imagination and resourcefulness, key characteristics of the creative, the artists and those with right brain strengths.

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According to the Centre of Expertise on Resources, the tools for succeeding at a “no waste” circular economy are straight forward:

  • Refuse: try to eliminate using our natural resources when there are other alternatives
  • Reduce: lower the need for using natural resources, by reusing products already manufactured
  • Reuse: rayon paper towels can be washed and reused over and over
  • Repair: if the screen breaks on our phones, we simply repair rather than buy a new one
  • Refurbish: improving a product when it ages, ie repainting, polishing, etc
  • Remanufacture: improving an old product and using in a new way (broken outdoor shutters create beautiful indoor wall hangings… ART!)
  • Repurpose: reuse a product for a new purpose without having to change anything about it (glass jars are best example, buy pickles in a glass jar, when done we now have a storage container)
  • Recycle: reusing a products raw materials
  • Recover: use waste to make energy
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photography by AdobeStock

The most useful & effective reusable product that I’ve stumbled upon are rayon paper towels that can be washed, dried & reused indefinitely. They hold up well. I was spending $6 per week on paper towels, and now $0. That’s an easy $312 in my pocket.

We’ve got THIS!

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