Preschoolers recycle and compost
They’re not allowed to cross the street alone, but at three-feet tall, preschoolers from the Boston University Children’s Center are doing more about climate change than some graduate students.
The children, who range in age from two to five years old, are active participants in a waste reduction program at “The Center.” They work in groups of six to sort, weigh, and track their trash totals on a calendar prominently displayed in a corner of the classroom.
The Center’s recycling and composting program is the brainchild of CAS Senior Cassandra Lane who decided to act after repeatedly seeing toddlers scribble on pieces of paper and then toss them in the trash. Lane says she feels it’s especially important to teach children about the benefits of recycling and composting so they can form environmentally-friendly habits to carry into adolescence.
“People our age are set in their ways,” says Lane. “I wanted to start the program here because we can raise kids to know that plastic goes in the recycling bin the same way as garbage goes in the garbage can.”
The children routinely put their leftover food scraps in a compost bin and sort items to be recycled before weighing them. Then, they work together to empty the bins into larger receptacles outside.
Lane says she thinks that while recycling is important, composting is equally imperative, yet often overlooked.
“If people throw food waste in the trash, it will not break down because there isn’t enough Oxygen in the landfills,” she says. “It’s better to put an apple in the woods than in a landfill.”
Lane, who grew up in the green city of San Francisco, says she has been recycling and composting since she was old enough to create waste.
“I don’t even remember formally learning about recycling because I have been recycling forever,” she recalls.
San Francisco has an industrial waste reduction program in which every home is provided with trash, recycling and composting bins. The city profits from the program through the trash rates they charge their customers and by re-selling the compost as “Urban Earth,” through the San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners.
When she arrived in Boston, however, Lane quickly realized that recycling was not widely practiced, a reality that did little to curb her enthusiasm for the cause.
Next on her agenda is to get some worm bins in The Center so the children can better visualize the composting process.
“My hope is to get these ideas in their heads,” says Lane. “I believe that in order to truly effect change, children should be exposed to environmental concerns and strategies as early as possible.”