Although Kermit the Frog thinks it isn't easy being green, I think it can be simple to make ethical choices, like reusing instead of throwing away and planting something to eat.
For our belated Earth Day celebration my class harvested our classroom garden.
We grew the plants in recycled two litre plastic pop bottles. I was inspired by several Pinterest ideas for this project such as this one. We cut the pop bottles in half, turned the top opening section into the bottom half, which served as a water reservoir for our self-watering planters. As our class windows are north facing I chose a variety that grows well in cool, damp, low-light conditions and as you can see from the photos, they thrived.
My students learned about optimal growing conditions, variables that affect growth and patience. I enjoyed watching them come in each morning and head straight to their plants to check on them.
Despite about a third of the plants not returning to school after our two week spring break we had enough to make a salad for thirty people. The students were so excited by eating something they grew that we immediately planted new seeds for the next round of our classroom garden.
One of the problems with parties and food with a class of thirty students is what to use to serve the food. Obviously I won't buy disposable plates and cutlery, and using paper towel isn't ideal either. In the past I have asked students to bring their own plates, cups and cutlery from home, but many forget.
In late 2012 I entered a contest to win reusable party supplies for the classroom at the EcoMom Alliance. I commented on our class goals to be more eco responsible and how we were studying about our connection to nature with a unit from The David Suzuki Foundation. The sponsor of the contest, Surf Sweets, generously provided everyone who commented with a Preserve pack of reusable plates, cups and cutlery.
The Shareware they sent arrived just in time for our belated Earth Day party salad. Although I am trying to find alternatives to plastic for serving and storing food, sometimes plastic is expedient. I am impressed with the quality of the Preserve Shareware. They use recycled plastic to create #5 plastic that is completely recyclable in the end. They are BPA and melamine free, completely recyclable and use less water and energy when making their products.
We used the small plates and forks for our Earth Day party, and I love the sea of green around the room as we enjoyed our salad. Now, and for years to come, we can have class parties that will not involve creating waste, and the set can be shared with other classrooms.
My students have seen how simple it is to grow their own food. They know how important it is to reuse what we have. It is easy to make little changes and I hope they continue on this path.
I would like to thank Surf Sweets, Preserve and EcoMom Alliance for the gift of the Preserve Shareware for my students.