Schools miss teaching kids sustainability

I am an Enumclaw High School graduate and my younger brother has just entered the district as a kindergartner at Sunrise Elementary. I recently volunteered in his classroom for a cooking project. It was a fantastic experience and I’m looking forward to next time. All of the kids were thrilled to be involved, making it fun for everyone.

Part of the project was a fruit salad which included canned pineapple. Unfortunately, when the other two volunteers and I began the cleanup process, we couldn’t find the recycling bin. After asking the teacher where we could find it, we found out instead that Sunrise doesn’t have any recycling bins.

Since then, I have been continuously bothered by this. When I was attending Sunrise, I was learning the importance of recycling and other ways to be good to our environment. Obviously these types of habits should also be taught in the home, but if a child’s school (where they are spending 31.5 hours per week) doesn’t provide the means to help with this important part of an education, why would recycling seem like something necessary to do? I remember the high school having recycling bins which were barely used; could this be attributed to the fact that they didn’t show up until high school when people had already developed habits?

In addition, the high school (I don’t know about the rest of the district) is using disposable Styrofoam trays for hot lunches instead re-usable/washable (earth-friendly) trays. This seems like not only an unnecessary expense but a lost chance at a valuable lesson, your classic “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Upon further investigation on the district’s Web site, I found no information whatsoever about sustainability or what the district, or even individual schools, are doing to try and inform children of choices that can be made to save energy or reduce waste.

I think these are very important topics that should be discussed in schools, and were discussed when I was in school. It seems that the first step toward a sustainable community is educating the children in the community. A simple step toward this education would be to provide recycling bins in the schools.

Amanda Hansen


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