Recycling is regarded as a bit of a “nerdy” thing to do, the prerogative of the well-off, a harmless indulgence of the middle-classes that they might just as well get on with.
Most schools, astonishingly, subscribe to these views too. If they choose to pay at least lip-service to the “idea” behind recycling, they display a few recycling bins around the premises, carefully labelled. An inspection of these quickly reveals that they are not correctly used. Is that a surprise? Of course not. Neither is it in any way unpredictable, that at the end of the day even these inadequate attempts at recycling get tipped into the general rubbish collection by cleaners who do not know otherwise.
Recycling and preserving planetary resources starts with education. Every person needs to be educated. Recycling, in the form it exists today, has not been around long - few people really “know” how to do it. We are all learning now. Every step gained – with a new paper recycling plant, for example – is an achievement.
Saying that “there is no real recycling done in Dubai” and using that as an excuse not to educate children nonetheless, is a mistake.
It starts with education. That of children, as well as of adults. Recycling is not just about separating plastic and paper, or aluminium or glass. It is not merely emailing homework for parents to print out at home. (That merely shifts the cost and the responsibility to parents, often resulting in an even greater waste of paper and ink.)
Recycling is a commitment to wasting little to preserve resources, ours and our shared planet’s.
Children have to understand that, from throwing half their yoghurt away because they do not “feel like it,” to replacing their phone for another model because that is “so cool,” every action affects the planet, frequently resulting in unnecessary waste. Once the awareness is there, incentives can be put in place to encourage people.
The waste around us the world over is tremendous. The amount of unnecessary packaging, generated by consumer corporations looking to boost sales with attractive presentation, is outrageous. How is this going to change without the understanding and knowledge? We all have to do it. But acquiring the knowledge has to come first.
Steps to help children towards greater awareness:
These are some of the many steps that may be taken to start a family on the way. It will take time and you will meet many sceptics on the way, but the rest of the world will, eventually, catch up with you!
Agnes Holly has worked for more than 25 years in education ranging from university to nursery, and everything in-between. She is a qualified SEN teacher and has worked extensively with children who have dyslexia and ADHD. She has additional practical experience in the form of five of her own children aged between 6 and 23.