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Opinion Letters Our favorite learning place ... schoolhouse earth

At a school bus stop in Oak Grove community, I pick up trash weekdays from kids apparently tossing stuff out the bus windows ... chewed off pencils, pens, wadded up paper, numerous snack food, gum and candy wrappers ... all ugly litter that should have been recycled by the user, not me.

Getting down to basic ABCs, I consider recycling not a silly bothersome chore, but a deep moral obligation, one that could, and should, be subject matter for a few Sunday sermons. Some believe the earth is our home with God the master gardener ... and the earth our schoolhouse with mother nature the wisest teacher. And one small lesson addresses the way nature deals with waste. Everything is recycled including animal homes and even the animals themselves. All plants are biodegradable and reused. There is no waste in nature.

As a child, I learned to appreciate how the earth takes care of itself, not so much from my family, church or school, but at Girl Scout camp. The counselors kept insisting, “leave the site better than you found it.” That entailed discovering what was there, how it worked and taught me that we should fit in rather than change nature’s most wonderful design. Also meant trying to do no harm and leave no trace that we had been there. Can we leave no trace in our neighborhoods?

Recycling should be a part of everyone’s daily agenda, wherever you are. Not too difficult for a teacher to place a box in the classroom and tell kids to use both sides of paper before tossing in the recycle box. Buses can provide recycle baskets for snacky kids. If adults aren’t recycling at home, school, church, picnics, etc., how do we expect our children to be more responsible citizens? What’s so funny and sad at the same time is that to reuse and recycle is so darn easy and still, like lazy slobs, we continue to waste resources.

When I taught at a midschool on the Navajo reservation, my first lesson plan integrated recycling with language arts. After reading/reviewing the subject of “reusing resources,” teams of two students each, armed with empty grocery boxes, visited younger classrooms to make an oral presentation on why and how to recycle. Our students then interviewed the cafeteria staff on reusing containers, etc. and we even got in some math lessons on measurements from our cooks. Easy lesson right on the premises and the students became part of a solution rather than a problem. They learned a few civic and social skills along the way.

Thanks to parents, teachers, preachers and friends who care to do the right thing by helping our children to respect the earth as well as each other. A group of volunteers at Macon Pride is working hard to encourage reuse/recycling with short demonstrations on how to set up an easy no-cost recycling station in your school, club, business, church. We are also awarding “Proud to Recycle Here” stickers to all organizations who recycle the near 98 percent items that are accepted by Macon Solid Waste Department. Call Shirley Ches at (828)524-9991 or Elena Marsh at (828)369-8915 for more information.

Debby Boots — Franklin, N.C.


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