The Litter and Waste theme allows students to explore the questions related to the life cycle of products we buy and consume. From our consumption choices to recycling – this relatively easy topic to discuss with children is generally appreciated by schools for their first Eco-Schools project.
LITTER AND WASTE
The term ‘waste’ is commonly used to mean a substance, material or item its owner no longer finds useful and intends to throw away. In other words, anything that is thrown away is waste. In Switzerland, waste is classified based on how hazardous it is, its volume and where it comes from. Not all waste is processed in the same way. Some is reused, while some is recycled, incinerated or composted. Waste that is not properly collected and processed finds its way back into the natural world and pollutes the environment. Air (odours and harmful gas emissions), water (infiltration of ground water) and soil (acidification and declining quality) are particularly exposed to pollution from waste. Flora and fauna are also vulnerable and there are significant economic impacts (cost of decontamination and clean-up, plus the loss of land) and social repercussions (an uglier environment).
The amount of waste produced worldwide has multiplied tenfold over the last century. There are numerous problems related directly or indirectly to waste and reducing the amount we produce while improving waste processing is therefore a major objective from a sustainable development perspective.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Given the increasing scarcity of raw materials, there also needs to be greater emphasis on recycling non-renewable resources, some of which (such as glass or aluminium) can be recycled indefinitely. Recycling is good – but reducing is better! The consumption choices we make are critically important to our environmental impact. The quantities we buy, where goods come from and how they are produced are all decisive factors. The environmental cost of disposing of waste is currently lower than producing and using consumer goods. As consumers, it is therefore essential that we are aware of the consequences of our choices and that we prioritize products that protect natural resources, by taking account of their whole life cycle.
EXAMPLES OF LINKS TO THE CURRICULUM
Primary level: Physical Education: Collect waste on the school grounds during PE
Middle level: Science, English: Make a presentation about each waste type in small groups
Middle level: Crafts: From recycled materials (old binders, ….), create different waste sorting bins
Secondary level: Mathematics: Solve mathematical problems calculating how much waste (food, paper, packaging,…) is produced by the school in a certain amount of time