Ed Bieber has been leading kids in the outdoors for decades, introducing about a quarter million kids to the wonders of nature, and making our mission at The Nature Place a reality every single day. As many of you know, Ed is currently undergoing brain surgery that could reduce and reverse some symptoms of his Parkinson’s disease, which, recently, have been keeping him from fully doing that which he most loves. This week, The Journal News published a wonderful article about Ed’s journey as an outdoor educator, the surgery, and what he hopes to do as soon as he’s recovered. Take a look here.
Okay, so, the moment of truth: how much garbage did you produce this month? What’s your family’s baseline? I’ll tell you, if you tell me :).
Well, that’s not exactly how this newsletter thing works, but I would love to hear from all of you with a comment on this post!
Our family (2 adults and one baby) produced 1 large outdoor garbage can this month, and A LOT of recycling. Along with tracking our garbage this month, I did start to pay attention to recycling more. Our county sent a very helpful magnet about what can be recycled where we live, which I referred to after writing to you last month. I must admit, I realized there were things that I had been throwing away that could actually be recycled. I then found that we had heaps of plastic recyclables, which I am far from thrilled about. Ultimately, I’d like to cut down on our plastic consumption overall, even the kind that can be recycled. I will be thinking about this over the coming weeks and months.
Now that you know our baseline, you might be asking, “So? What’s your goal for the challenge!?”
My family garbage goal for this year is: to cut our garbage in half! Is that realistic? I am not sure. We are going to try though, and I know we’re going to learn a lot doing it!
How about you? How much garbage did you produce this month? How much would you like to reduce your trash by? Any initial thoughts on how?
Let’s get the juices flowing!
Helpful tips for diverting items from the garbage can:
- If you aren’t clear on what you can and can’t recycle, a quick google search of ‘____ county recycling’, should get you to a list. I recommend posting this list near your garbage/recycling area. Here are some lists I’ve collected to get you started: NYC Recycling, Rockland County Recycling, Bergen County Recycling, Westchester County Recycling. Also, if you are looking to recycle something odd or unusual, like batteries, auto fluids, electronics etc., you can go here and type in the item and your zip code to find a location to recycle them near you!
- Check every piece of trash before throwing it away. You might be surprised at what can be recycled!
Good luck to us all!
This past spring, a few of us camp administrators got together and watched the movie Plastic Paradise (Warning: watch before you think about showing this to your children, there are some graphic parts). It was truly horrific, BUT equally inspiring. The film spells out that unless we, the consumers, stop buying plastic, it will not stop being made! And, if you haven’t guessed it – our plastic use is way out of hand and causing major environmental ramifications. Did you know that if current plastic production and disposal patterns continue, there will be more plastic, by weight, in the oceans than fish?
So, how much garbage does your family produce? In a day? A week? A year? Do you have a sense?
I’ve recently been so excited by the stories of families who’ve committed to living a zero or extremely low waste lifestyle. I’ve also heard of other families that only allow themselves to produce enough waste to fill up one garbage can… for the entire year! What courageous and conscious decisions!
For me, these inspiring challenges feel a little out of reach right now. I try to pay close attention to recycling and composting, but the garbage still fills up faster than I expect it to, and to be honest, I am not even sure how many cans of garbage we fill in an average week or month.
Knowing I definitely wanted to make some degree of change, I began asking myself: how can I reduce the garbage our family produces in a real and tangible way? And, what will make me commit to a goal for the long run? Then, I thought of all of you – our camp community, who I know also care deeply for the earth! It is always helpful to work together and get through challenges as a group.
If any of this is resonating, tell your children, get them on board, and start the challenge with us!
Here’s how to get the ball rolling and keep it going all year:
Step 1: Figure out how much garbage your family is producing as a baseline. You could weigh your garbage bags before you put them out for pickup, or simply count how many bags you toss each time. Notice how much of your waste stream is made up of single-use plastics – plastics that are used only once before they are thrown “away” (i.e. plastic bags, produce bags, straws, coffee stirrers, plastic wrap, etc.).
Step 2: Set a reduction goal you think is doable for your family, that will push you to try some new sustainable choices.
Step 3: Over this year, keep track of your garbage consumption and see if you can meet or surpass your goal!
I propose that we complete our baseline garbage tracking and our family goal setting (any ‘1 garbage can for the entire year’ families out there?) by the next issue of The Dirt, say, mid-October.
For the rest of the year, in each month’s Dirt, I will post about how my family (Daniel, Odelia and I) is doing with the challenge. I’ll also write about things we find helpful along the way!
If you’re in, please visit the Garbage Can Challenge page of our blog to reply with a ‘Yes! We are joining the challenge!’. I encourage you to reply regarding what your garbage goals are and, in future posts, how the challenge is going. This community sharing will help all of us all stay motivated and on track! I’m really looking forward to reading your posts. Pictures of your garbage (and/or recycling and compost) are also most welcome!
SO….WHO’S IN? I know Emily Selover, our Sustainability Queen, is!
I’m very excited about this,
The summer camp season that just finished was especially memorable. Maybe it was the general, contagious feeling of belonging that spread to everyone at camp – good spirited, relaxed, engaged; maybe it was Banana week, maybe this season had great hikes and camping trips/garden programming/swim instruction/art projects, etc…. likely many of the summer’s good memories are due to the truly exceptional staff that graced us with their constant care and presence.
Below are a few of the kind, descriptive words that parents shared with us this summer.
She has come home saying things like, “I love snap peas!”
Everyone is patient, kind and present. One of the best parts is that all the counselors and staff seem to be enjoying themselves.
…the non-stop chatter, the bright eyes, the scraped knees, the tangled birds nest hair, the grubby shorts and the spoils of nature with which they returned – herbed salt, harvested garlic, tie-dyed t-shirts, dream catchers and so on.
I immediately noticed a lovely and relaxed aura around him since he started camp and it has definitely added to his sense of wonder in the world.
I am convinced that this camp will make a difference in her life forever.
I wanted to let you know that all 3 of my children had a beautiful first experience at The Nature Place. They came home happy, peaceful and full of new knowledge that they wanted to share with me. I love that they come home energized rather than over-stimulated and irritable from a long day.
Camp is technically over but soon my oldest child will be assessing camping gear, planning on days to do trail work with friends and looking at all of the fossils, minerals, and stones he’s collected. My younger one will wear her tye-died shirt, sing “Mellow, Yellow” ad-nauseam and show her friends how to do some of the string art she learned. Eventually, they both will ask how many days until camp starts? And so the annual countdown begins.
No, it’s not three eggs, home fries and toast… it’s 7.5% off of camp tuition for summer 2017 if you pay in full by October 1st (two weeks away). Sign up as an early bird here.