Seeing Environmental Problems — and Solutions

This morning I stumbled upon our family copy of 101 Places You Gotta See Before You’re 12. I’m sad to report that this little gem appears to be out of print, but flipping through the book reminded me about the power of experiential learning.

If you want to encourage your kids to become good stewards of planet Earth, make a plan to visit these four locations.

Landfill
The average American generates about 4.5 pounds of trash per day. The majority of our waste is buried in landfills, a huge source of methane and groundwater/soil contamination. Your local landfill is far from the prettiest place on Earth, but the smells alone will encourage your kids to re-double their recycling efforts.

Recycling Center
Recycling creates a closed-loop system where unwanted materials are returned to manufacturers for use in new products. It not only saves resources but also prevents pollution, supports public health, and creates jobs. Nearly 90% of what we throw away could potentially be recovered through reuse, recycling or composting.

Center for Hard to Recycle Materials
If you live in a place with a permanent drop-off facility for household hazardous waste, consider yourself lucky. In Atlanta, CHaRM provides educational sessions about the importance of proper disposal of hard to recycle materials. Each year the organization diverts thousands of pounds of items from Metro-Atlanta landfills and water systems.

Water Treatment Plant
The science and engineering required to deliver potable water is truly amazing. Seeing this effort first hand will encourage the whole family to conserve water and reduce pollution. In Atlanta, Hemphill Water Treatment Plant is generally open for tours once or twice a year.

Don’t under estimate the power experiential learning. Make Google your friend on this mission — you needn’t travel far to drive home a serious environmental message.

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