World Environment Day - Think, Eat, Save: Reduce your Footprint
Created by Anurima Updated on Jun 05, 2020
The World Environment Day is an annual event celebrated on 5th June every year. It was started in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. After the conference, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was set up to raise global awareness and take positive environmental actions.
World Environment Day is celebrated around the world with week-long festivities beginning on 5th June. Communities participate in activities such as neighborhood cleaning, tree planting, recycling, rallies, essay competitions in schools and many more. Each year a different country is selected as the host nation along with a new slogan. India hosted the World Environment Day in 2011 and our slogan was Forest: Nature at your Service.
Some of the other popular slogans so far have been:
• The Planet needs you: Unite to combat climate change (2009)
• Our Earth Our Future: Just Save it (1999)
• Melting Ice: A Hot Topic (2007)
• Water: Vital Resource for Life (1976)
• Plan for the Planet! (2005)
This Year's theme: Think, Eat, Save: Reduce your Footprint.
The host nation is Mongolia and the theme deals with issues such as wastage of food, usage of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides in food production, how rotten food emits methane, which makes a significant contribution to global warming.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), every year about 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted or lost; about 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry and more than 20000 children die daily of hunger. It is seen that global food production uses 25% of all habitable land and 70% of fresh water consumption. Additionally, food production activities are also responsible for 80% deforestation and 30% of total green-house consumption.
(Facts and figure source: The UNEP)
How can we teach our children to care for the environment?
We do not have to take big measures such as install solar panels or make provisions to harvest rainwater to make a difference. Although taking these measures would be ideal and would make a significant and positive difference to the environment, doing little things such as practicing a few tips at home and inculcating environment-friendly habits in our children can go a long way in helping the environment.
1. Conserve water: My daughter loves to play with water and will leave the tap running at every opportunity she gets. It helps to explain to your child the importance of not wasting water and reminding them to turn off the tap when they are brushing or washing hands with soap. With regular reminders, and role modeling, I am certain this will become second nature for my child as she grows.
2. Turn off the lights: Encourage and teach children the importance of turning off lights and other electrical devices when not in use.
3. Keep doors closed: Centrally air-conditioned or centrally heated rooms lose much air when the doors are left open. To avoid this, you may coach your child to close the door each time they leave the room.
4. Recycling: Encourage your child to sort and recycle papers, plastics and other waste. You may designate separate bins or bags for each type of waste. They may be disposed off at the various recycle points in your city.
5. Compost: Instead of throwing away kitchen waste such as vegetable peels, banana skin or egg shells, you could spread them onto the soil of your household plants. The peels provide nutrients and act as manure for the plants. The egg shells keep insects and pests at bay, making the plants grow stronger and healthier.
6. Discourage wastage: Encouraging children to finish their food help minimize wastage. For example, some children may not like to eat bread crusts. They may be encouraged to eat all parts of the bread as it all tastes the same. Something that works with my child - If she does not finish her food, I tell her about the thousands of little children like her who do not get food for days. This has got her thinking and now she makes it a point to finish her meal each time.
7. Turning off gadgets: Your child may be coached to switch off electronic gadgets such as the television, computer, video games and the like when not in use. Research has shown that the amount of energy consumed by a video game when left on and not used is the same as when being actively used. Encouraging your child to play outdoors or do some other activity such as reading or painting can also help in reducing their gadget time.
8. Gardening: Children may be taught about how plants and trees are grown by planting indoor plants or making them in-charge of a small patch of land in your garden. Watering the plants regularly and watching them grow is a good way to educate little children about caring for and respecting the environment.
Suggestions to Help Inculcate Love and Concern for the Environment in Your Child
• You may arrange for a picnic or a nature walk with your child at a park and tell them about the value of plants, soil and trees in our lives.
• You may plant some seeds and ask your child to care for the plant by watering, putting it out in the sunlight etc.
• Let them dig and play in the garden.
• Let them watch cartoons and movies about the environment. My daughter learnt a lot by watching 'The Bee Movie', which shows the importance of bees, pollination and their effect on the environment.
• It helps to listen and answer your child's questions and concerns with regards to the environment. My children have a thousand questions on how trees grow so tall, where rice grows, where water comes from and so on. It helps to answer their curious questions in simple ways so that they may understand and remember these little things.
• You may hand your child a pair of binoculars and let them explore nature through the window. They may write down what they see. For instance, let them write the colors of the birds they see, draw the shape of the leaves of trees, draw flowers and even look for worms and insects.
• Children may also take pictures of flora and fauna to make a scrap book and keep adding to it.
• They can make artwork or pictures with dried leaves, flowers, twigs and pebbles.
• Show them picture books or websites about the environment.
• You could have discussions about nature, the weather, how little changes help and how we can start making changes at home.
• Encourage your adolescent to spend time outdoors doing activities such as playing cricket, biking or even stepping out for a stroll. You could spend time outdoors together to make the activity more enjoyable.
• Have discussions with them about household environmental decisions such as how to cut down on energy usage, how and where to dispose items for recycling, the importance of substituting plastic bags with paper bags and so on.
• It helps to listen to their suggestions and ideas instead of disregarding them at the first instance. You may sit down and have a discussion about the pros and cons and then together decide if the idea could be taken forward.
• They may be made aware of the impact even small changes can have.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children ”- Chief Seattle
Image Courtesy: UNEP
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