Holiday Problems In the Classroom

Now that a new holiday season is here I am expecting a lot of themed items permeating throughout daily life in the next couple weeks, especially from schools.

Photo Credit: Indonesiaful / American Holidays in Indonesia: A Review of 2015
Photo Credit: Indonesiaful / American Holidays in Indonesia: A Review of 2015

Today schools are promoting and continually working on being environmental educators on how to be responsible members of our ecosystem. I’ve enjoyed seeing the promotion and use of gardening, composting, and water conservation, but seem to have a blind spot – Classroom Crafts & Awards.

As a parent with a child in school I end up accumulating a lot of crafts and cheap dollar store trinkets that they bring home from school. And frankly, most of it isn’t kept for too long, and my biggest problem with that is that I can’t dispose of it responsibly. Because 99.9% of the time, its plastic; and plastic can only downgrade into smaller particulate that is a toxin to our ecosystem, unlike organic materials and inorganic materials such as glass that is 100% recyclable and inert, becoming glass pebbles overtime – but best recycle that shall we? Don’t want exposed sharp edges in our environment that us and fellow animals can get cut on before it wears down.

I notice this is the same problem with other children oriented groups, such as Girl Guides, 4H and Scouts.

There are two main reasons why this is happens

1) Old habits die hard.
When you’ve been running things for a certain way for so long, or even if you just inherited the leadership role, you use what is familiar, and changing that isn’t easy. You already know where to get the materials and how they work. Now you have the challenge of trying to find these new materials and work with materials you are unfamiliar with.

2) Its convenient.
Look at all those craft and dollar stores – right there, easy to find, already with instructions or have an abundance of known references all over the place – including our own childhood experiences and familiarity with it.

The problem I encounter along with this is that to suggest changing something to be more environmental there is a social backlash. Change, and change to something that isn’t as convenient, is upsetting for most people.

I’m not interested in condemning people, I’m interested in solutions. So I plan on putting together resources for seasonal crafts and awards on our seasonal reference page on our blog for educators & recreation organizers to use. Probably won’t have something in time for this year’s Halloween / TransNox / Samhain / All Soul’s Night / Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos etc. (we do have a lot of holidays this time of year). By this time next year I hope to have a solid set of things for you.

I also invite those reading this who have resources to post them below, and if its something you’ve made yourself – please submit it as an article (with pictures!) to pathsthroughtheforests [at] gmail [dot] com – Just remember that we’re looking for completely Plastic Free options :)

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