"Hi! Remember me? I went to Art From Scrap!" The excited 5th grader waved a reusable metal water bottle. "My whole family got one after I told them what I learned about disposable plastic and how it can end up polluting the ocean."
This is one of the many success stories that Explore Ecology environmental educators hear from students who have participated in their waste reduction lessons. Taught onsite at Art From Scrap or in schools, Explore Ecology delivers free waste reduction and composting education to 2,000 students in Southern Santa Barbara County and 4,400 students in Northern Santa Barbara County every year.
Made possible through a partnership with the County's Resource Recovery & Waste Management Division, Explore Ecology teaches students how to conserve natural resources, save landfill space, and become effective environmental stewards. All lessons include an Art From Scrap project so children get to practice the concept of reuse. This education is not only valuable academically; it also contributes greatly to the environmental health of the community.
Bianca Pisano, who has been an educator with Explore Ecology for two years, says, "We teach the kids that when you throw something away, "away" is the landfill. We facilitate their thought process to help them reach the conclusion that through reducing, reusing, recycling, and composting, we will use less of our precious natural resources and put less into the landfill."
Bianca says, "The most rewarding part of my job is watching the light bulb turn on in kids' heads and hearing them make the connection to how their actions affect the planet. I love watching them learn that they can have a profound impact on the planet in a really positive way."
Bianca remembered, "I recently taught a kindergarten waste reduction lesson and I asked why we were learning about this and why it mattered. One child raised her hand and said that we care about our trash because 'if we don't reduce, reuse, recycle, then the trash will keep piling up and take up our whole planet and kill our environment.' It was really powerful to hear such a young voice say such a profound and connected statement."
Explore Ecology's waste reduction lessons meet state standards and are a valuable supplement to the education already provided by classroom teachers. For more information and to schedule field trips, contact Explore Ecology Education Director Mariana Cruz at (805) 884-0459 ext. 16 or email her here.