Nelson Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world. In honor of Earth Day, I gave a presentation on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling to approximately 700 students at three different schools in Traverse City.
We talked about issues including natural ecosystems, sustainability, population growth, and urban planning. Most students were shocked to learn that plastic takes 500 years to decompose. We talked about dangers of the Line 5 Pipeline and the failure of most leaders to address this ticking time bomb. One student said that she was only 12 years old and could not vote, so she did not feel that she could impact government leaders. I reminded her that she would be voting in only 6 years, so she should still contact her local representatives with a message: Line 5 and the environment are important to her, and she will be voting in 6 years. A light went off. She took notes.
Students were excited to participate in a contest for best ideas on Reducing, Reusing and Recycling. We received more than 40 submissions…wind turbines to power schools, water rations as a social challenge, recycle bins in cafeterias. Downtown Traverse City gift certificates were awarded for the top three ideas.
The contest has inspired FLOW to pursue long-term programs based on student ideas. Our first project will be putting recycle bins in school cafeterias along with educational posters. We hope to increase the amount of waste that is recycled as well as engage more student to think about conservation.
FLOW is excited to work on projects that bring hope for the future. While the battle to protect the Great Lakes will not end any time soon, today’s students will soon be tomorrow’s voters.
Deyar Jamil is a licensed attorney and former Federal Agent. She lives in Traverse City with her family. Her favorite place is the beach. She asks that any teachers or educators interested in working to arrange educational programs with FLOW contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.