Children and trees grow in an ecological trinity.

Every day in America, every man, woman, and child generates nearly four pounds of garbage. More than a trillion pounds of solid waste each year, or more than 365 trillion pounds. It is an astonishing statistic considering the environmental impact of garbage on our fragile ecosystem.

As adults, it is easy to forget the importance of our world depends on reducing, reusing, and recycling for the health and safety of future generations. If efforts do not improve current behaviours, that future generation – our children – will suffer the consequences of current environmental mismanagement.

During the three years in a row, one hotel company is embarking on helping children think locally and act locally by educating them on caring for the environment properly. With the support of the National Arbour Day Foundation, Doubletree Hotels is distributing an eco-friendly lesson plan that provides a framework for wasting thousands of elementary school students in the U.S. and Canada to recycle it as an art treasure.

The Educational Initiative is an extension of the Hotel Teaching Child Care Program. We are educating children on environmental care decision-making in conjunction with hotel property primary schools and youth groups. This spring, teaching children volunteers and children will create “litter criteria,” reduce the number of animals in the litter world, reuse and recycle, and plant more than 10,000 seedlings throughout the United States and Canada.

Here are some tips for parents (and mentors) who want their children (or grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-grandchildren) to engage in eco-friendly activities:

  1. Recycling is Fun Recycling is not about aluminium cans and old newspapers. Instead, please encourage your children to start their recycling program to share old toys, books, and games with their friends and classmates. One child’s trash can is another child’s treasure, and by “passing it on,” children can minimize pollution by recycling their old things while others can reuse them.
  2. Be a settlement hero – Challenge your children to gather all their friends and classmates to help clean up a park or school grounds (under parental supervision). Anyone who collects the most garbage wins the “Settler Hero” award and prize (as you decide).
  3. Plant a “family tree” – Take your children to a garden or home shop and let them choose a young tree. (Be sure to check if it can survive in your climate zone.) Then, plant the tree in a particular place as a family, assigning each family member a different task (digging, planting, watering). Be sure to document the activity with a photo so the children can remember how small it is when that tree was planted.
  4. You can make a difference – Encourage your children to save empty aluminium cans, then make a weekly visit to a nearby “cash for cash” drop-off point. Decide with your children how to use the money they have collected from recycling efforts to improve the environment. Options to consider include volunteering for tree planting projects, following a local highway for beautification and maintenance, or donating the money to a local environmental organization.
  5. Pulp to Paper – This fun handbook project shows children how to recycle old newspapers into new ones. Tear your child to half-inch pieces of newspaper. Fill buckets or bowls with one part newspaper and two parts water and soak for several hours. Using a hand mixer, “pulp” the fibres in the paper until the mixture looks like mushrooms. Capture a few of pulp and place it on a piece of felt, adjust it to the size of the amount of paper you want to make, and squeeze it tightly to squeeze out excess water. Allow the foam to dry for a day or two.

Remember, proper waste management saves the environment, saves energy, reduces pollution, and protects animals worldwide. A little effort from your children today can ensure a healthy, green tomorrow.

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Photo by Nick Gordon

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