At this moment in time, I feel like we’d be hard pressed to find someone in society who wasn’t aware of the plastic problem, or climate change. And as adults, it’s easy for us to find out how to cut down our consumption and make small changes in our lives. But how do children feel about it all?
Broaching the subject of recycling with any child is likely to result in a sigh. I know if I mentioned it to my 9-year-old nephew, he’d probably start switching off pretty quickly.
Not because he doesn’t care about the world around him, but because he’s 9 and doesn’t have a global view yet. He’s still learning about all this stuff.
But our planet is in dire trouble, and for anything to be done about it, we need children to make changes while they’re young to avoid becoming a society like us – one that creates and consumes to such an extent that the planet just can’t keep up.
This Book is Not Rubbish: 50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish and Save the World! by Isabel Thomas (illustrated by Alex Paterson) aims to provide a younger generation with the facts, alongside ideas on how they can make small changes in their daily lives.
On the blurb, the book encourages kids to ‘become an eco-warrier not an eco-worrier’ which does make me feel concerned about the legacy we’re leaving to our children – are they feeling fearful of the future?
If they are, at least having a book like this, full of facts and ideas could help.
I was pleased to see that This Book is Not Rubbish doesn’t just include the expected topics of recycling, plastic and wildlife conservation.
It also includes features on upcycling, campaigning, decoding labels, consumerism and buying second-hand.
I like to think that I’m pretty savvy when it comes to the environment, but having read through This Book is Not Rubbish even I learnt a few things.
Like the fact that, even though more electricity than ever before is being generated from renewable sources, at times of high demand (e.g. in the evenings when everyone gets home from work or school), only fossil fuel burning power stations can deal with the surge in demand. Therefore, if we need to use the washing machine or dishwasher, or charge our phone, it’s probably better to do this at off-peak times – or even overnight, while everyone is asleep and typically turns off electrical appliances. There’s even a handy website listed where we can check the best and worst time to use electricity (wwf.org.uk/updates/how-do-you-make-green-cup-tea)
Or the impact of growing cotton for fashion. Did you know it takes 2,700 litres of water to make a single cotton T-shirt?
The section on food labels was really interesting too. Obvious inclusions were palm oil (a huge problem for orangutans and many other rainforest species) and sugar cane (for deforestation of rainforests). But cocoa was also included as ‘a crop responsible for wrecking rainforests’. Apparently:
‘even in some ‘protected’ areas, 90% of the land has been converted to farming cocoa. In Cote d’Ivoire, there were once several hundred thousand elephants, but now just 200-400 survive in the country’.
But, for chocolate loving kids, all isn’t lost. Author Isabel Thomas, just advises readers to look at the label and buy products with the little green frog: a symbol that the crop is certified sustainable by the Rainforest Alliance.
Now, not every child will have a huge say in where their clothes come from, what food is bought, or when the washing machine should be turned on. But there are sections where they can take direct action; from organising a litter picking walk to making a bird feeder for the garden.
The book is filled with activities for children to do which encourage them to think about the world around them and how they can help protect it.
While there were so many stats that even I felt a bit overwhelmed, I think this is an incredibly useful book for children to have as a resource on their shelf. A book to open their eyes up to the damage being done to the world around us while suggesting ways in which they can make a difference.
There are so many problems facing our planet right now, we need to hope children take these ideas on board and become more responsible than we have been.
This Book is Not Rubbish: 50 Ways to Ditch Plastic, Reduce Rubbish and Save the World is out now and available to buy in paperback for £6.99.
Thanks to publishers Wren & Rook for the review copy!