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The 3 Rs: new school vs. old school

Posted November 27, 2013 in Advice Column, Boone

I had a chance recently to sit in on an environmental presentation to a grade school class. When asked about the three Rs they immediately recited reduce, reuse, recycle. I chuckled, as I thought in my day it would have been readin’, ’ritin and ’rithmatic. And really, I’m not that old.

The fact that our young people are being brought up in the days where recycling is so widespread gives me a good feeling about our future. Comments are always brought up on how we need to start our recycling education with the kids, and they will go home and teach their parents. How often do you hear a statement like that?

How are you at keeping your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews and/or neighbor kids informed about environmental issues? Are you one who leads by example?

Let them all know you recycle, and bottles, cans and many other household products are recyclable. Take them to the recycling center so they can see the many items that are recycled.

When you buy products, pay attention to the information on the label that mentions the amount of recycled content that product has, and point it out to others.  Use it as a learning tool. For example, say “this item is made from 80 percent recycled content. How much of it is not recycled content?”

Reuse of items is a great example. Plastic bags can be reused in so many ways besides flags in trees when the wind is blowing. You can use them for your actual garbage or have one folded up in your purse or in your car to put your wet umbrella in. If I get interrupted while painting, I will roll up my wet paint brush in one to keep it from drying out until I return.

Yes, our kids and grandkids can teach us but we teach by example.  What are you teaching your kids?

With the holidays coming up, can you think of alternatives to the rolls of Christmas wrap you use? My thought this year is to put gifts in the many reusable grocery bags I get at different conferences or events. I have way more than I will ever use.

I have heard of people using newspaper comics, paper grocery sacks, towels, scarves, cloth bags, blankets, even pieces of clothing strategically folded. You could just put a piece of ribbon on them to pretty it up.

For more ideas for your winter holiday celebrations, check out www.reclaimyourholidays.org, a website by the University of Northern Iowa Center for Energy and Environmental Education.

Information provided by Lois Powers, Boone County Landfill Administrative Services, Keep Boone County Beautiful coordinator.

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