On August 9th this year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its latest report, which concluded that human activity has caused an unprecedented change in climate patterns, the effects of which are now being felt all over the planet. We are already seeing the effects in increased temperatures, rising sea levels, loss of permafrost areas, changes in rainfall patterns resulting in more flooding in some areas and longer periods of drought in others.
It stressed that much of the changes are irreversible and some of these will continue to get worse. Once the polar ice caps have melted, it is not a simple matter to ‘refreeze’ them – even if we limit global temperature rises, reversing the effects of climate change is not like turning up the dial on your freezer!
There was some hope in the report however, which also said that drastically cutting carbon emissions within the next few years, would give us a chance to limit the impact on our climate... but time is definitely running out and many media outlets interpreted this as a “code red for humanity”.
As custodians of the thoughts and ideas of future generations, the early years sector is uniquely placed to heed this warning and foster attitudes and actions that will instigate change:
- To educate our young people to look after the planet
- To do whatever we can to affect change, albeit on an individual or small-scale basis
- To inspire others to do the same
Finding ways to live more sustainably is the key and we ALL need to take action to contribute to the greater whole. Read on to find out how you, and the people in your care, can make a real difference this September.
World Car Free Day - 22nd September
World Car Free Day is a day to ditch your car and walk, cycle or take public transport instead. Similar initiatives have been held around the world on an ad hoc basis for years, but in 1995, the first structured events happened in Bath (England), La Rochelle (France) and Reykjavik (Iceland). Since then, there have been many similar initiatives such as the Walk To Work Day we reported on last month.
Whole cities now get involved to promote what transport and cities could look like without cars and offer people the chance to experience their streets free of motor traffic. What would your neighbourhood be like without cars? Could you take the time to imagine what that might mean for your local area, or for the people in your community? Perhaps you could promote the day and encourage everyone to find an alternative transport method for that day. Even one car journey saved, would reduce emissions. Imagine what could be done if a whole city did the same thing and your local streets and car parks were transformed into pedestrian areas with places to sit, cycle parking areas, open gardens, playgrounds or art spaces? Worth thinking about, isn’t it?
We’ve all heard how we can reduce, reuse and recycle in our settings and Recycle Week has been a main event in the calendar for many years. This year the theme is “Step it up this Recycle Week” with the aim of “galvanising the public into recycling more of the right things, more often”.
One of the main issues affecting recycling centres currently is that we often throw away a number of items that are not recyclable and this often endangers the whole batch. In order to combat this, make sure that everything you put in your recycle bins is recyclable. Common things like silver foil, aerosol cans and many cleaning bottles can be recycled but other common items including some plastic bags, toothpaste tubes, drinking glasses and drink cartons cannot, and should be disposed of with other household waste. The trick here is to carefully check the packaging for the recycling mark, or check with your local recycling centre.
Estimates suggest that 30% of British clothing, hangs unworn in the back of wardrobes up and down the country so why not arrange your own 2nd hand clothing sale in your and educate the children too? With coronavirus, face-coverings and PPE is causing a problem too. Non-reusable face coverings and PPE should be put it in your usual ‘black bag’ residual waste bin and it’s a criminal offence to drop used face coverings or other PPE as litter!
For more information about disposing of face coverings and other PPE, please visit gov.uk.
Great British Beach Clean
Friday 17th to Sunday 26th September is also the time of the Marine Society’s Great British Beach Clean, where everyone is encouraged to take part in either an organised or your own, clean-up. The organisers ask everyone to run a litter survey, recording all the items of litter they find in a random, 100m stretch of beach they cover. This information then feeds into the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC). Data from last year reported an average of 425 items of litter per 100m stretch of beach, so there is still a long way to go to clean up our beaches. Children often love litter picking, but make sure they have protective equipment and are supervised well to avoid exposure to dangerous or unsuitable items.
The Great Big Green Week
The 18th to the 26th September also marks the Great Big Green Week where communities across the country will join together for the biggest event for climate and nature in the UK. There will be thousands of events to celebrate how communities are taking action to tackle climate change and protect green spaces so why not get involved as a setting and do something at grass roots level to inspire the politicians?
Ten simple things everyone can do NOW to help
- Switch off lights when not in use
- Switch off electrical devices at the wall instead of leaving them on standby
- Recycle everything you can
- Use refillable bottles
- Turn down the heating by one degree
- Walk or cycle on small journeys and use public transport instead of a car at least one journey a week
- Recycle clothing that is not used
- Change to reusable nappies for one day a week
- Share a car journey with a colleague more often
- Use dishwashers and washing machines on eco programs
Let us know what you do by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.