Take It Home
Let's hope your students have experienced so many moments of reuse at school that taking it home is a no-brainer. If you need a little help to inspire your students' families, try these two ideas to get things started.
There are currently more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in everyday products, but less than 10 percent have been adequately tested for potential health impacts on children. It's better to be safe than sorry, so if a product contains ingredients that you are unsure of, avoid it.
Make a math homework assignment by creating a graph with students' names on one side and reuse options on the other. Create coupons that say “Our family has completed to fulfill one Reuse Challenge” and send several home with each student. As students return their filled-in coupons, fill in the graph demonstrating reuse actions. Here are some examples of actions:
Use reusable bags for shopping. They can be cloth, paper, or plastic as long as they are reused.
Cut up old, unusable clothing for rags and use them in place of paper towels.
Assign yourself a glass or cup and reuse it for the entire day.
Use old jars for leftovers.
Use your bathroom towel for one week.
Wear your jeans at least twice before washing them (as long as they are visibly clean).
Reuse sandwich bags at least twice by washing them and drying them.
Don't use paper or throwaway plastic dishes for at least one week. Wash and reuse your dishes.
Go to the library to get books instead of buying them.
Provide these examples, but also encourage the students and their families to come up with their own ideas. It's fun to learn what families do!
At home there are many ways to reuse materials instead of throwing them away, and there are also opportunities to buy secondhand items in order to protect the planet and human health. Ask your students about ways to reuse materials and make a list of their suggestions. Send home the list of all the children's suggestions plus a list of the following resources to buy used items. If you encourage students to buy reused items, they may become less preoccupied with the latest expensive fashion rage.
Local thrift stores. Kids grow out of their clothes quickly, so their clothing is often barely used. Stop at the thrift store first when you're stocking up on seasonal clothing needs.
eBay (www.ebay.com) is a vital resource for finding almost anything you can dream up. It is a very trustworthy community of people selling products to other people. Buy there. Sell there. Use it and love it.
Craigslist (www.craigslist.com) is another, more localized version of eBay where people can easily post items they want to sell. You can actually go visit the seller and see the item for sale before buying it.
BookMooch (www.bookmooch.com) allows you to sell your own used books to earn points to buy other people's books. It's a virtual book swap for people who love to read.
Freecycle (www.freecycle.org) is an international community of people looking to get rid of and find products for free. You can find free couches, clothes, gardening supplies, and much more.
With the power of the Internet, people's ability to find used items is nearly limitless. Take some time before you run off to the department store and find what you need used. It's easier than ever and it's completely affordable.