by Trudi Forristal, Mountain Yard Teacher
I am passionate about our world, and take very seriously a mandate to protect our mother earth. I bring this passion with me to my work as a teacher in Mountain Yard every day. Play Mountain Place children are also very connected to the environment, and interested in doing their part to help protect our planet. This year, in Mountain Yard I wanted to make an even bigger commitment to the environment than usual, so I worked with the students to help make the environment we have here at school more eco-friendly and green. We developed this in many ways throughout the year. First, I enlisted kids to be part of what we called “The Green Team.” Then we invited Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen of the 5 Gyres Institute (parents of Avani who attended Play Mountain Place), to give a very educational presentation about plastic pollution in the ocean. The children were so inspired from this presentation that at the next park day, they made a plan and picked up trash.
We then thought about the items we used everyday, and how we could reduce our waste by reusing items, especially plastic items. I made a plan with the children to purchase mugs and scoured thrift stores for silverware we could use everyday in our program. This is an example of the way teachers in the Play Mountain Place program turn their passions into plans! We started using the mugs for our drinks and cutlery for our lunches instead of disposables. Everyone has their own mug that hangs on a hook in their cubby now. We wash our dishes together at the end of every day. Children also decorated all the trashcans to help folks distinguish landfill waste from something that could be recycled. We also saved over $300 from not buying these products, so we have more money to buy plants for our yard or feed for our chickens.
These changes are so important and feel significant as we work toward protecting our planet together. As our work continues, my next idea to bring to the team will be to make individual hand towels and napkins out of cloth so that we can save on using paper products. We have learned many things from our experiences with these small actions, and we reduced our footprint with a few small changes. I’m pleased to see our efforts make such an impact!