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Nature Reserve & Biological Station

  • Alwina and Stephanie

Environmental Education – Let's talk about trash!

To inform the kids from Las Tolas, the neighbouring village of Un poco del Chocó, about trash and pollution, we decided to prepare a workshop for them. Since in Ecuador the pollution is very bad and the environmental awareness very low, we found it necessary to show them the importance of trash separation, recycling, reduction of plastic use, etc.

In preparation of the trash workshop we collected ideas to exemplify important key elements with games and illustrations. We (Nicole, Stephanie, Alwina and Dominik) created a time schedule for last Saturday from 9am to 3pm. For the illustrations we drew a poster and items on little cards that represented the way of all kinds of plastic into the ocean. On the internet we searched for meaningful videos and graphs. We also upcycled empty toilet paper rolls and old plastic bottles into colourful flower pots and decoration so we could show examples to the kids.

Some of the collected trash ready to be seperated

Saturday morning, Wilo, Stephanie and Dominik went to Las Tolas to pick up the six kids who wanted to participate. On their way back, they collected trash from the street. “BASURA, BASURA!”, they yelled, jumped motivated out of the car and picked it up. In just 30 minutes the kids collected a total of three big bags of trash along the roadside. After they arrived at the station, Nicole told them basic facts about trash and they started separating trash into the categories organic, plastic, glass, paper/carton, hazardous and residual waste.

How long does a plastic bag need to decompose?

With the separated garbage, we went behind the station where we prepared a time line. We just pinned different decomposition time spans to our clothes line and let the kids guess where to put what kind of garbage. They build two teams - boys vs. girls. A little competition always helps to keep up the motivation ;). Most guesses were close to the actual decomposition time but there were also a few surprises. The girls were so motivated, that they won that game.

How does the trash end up in the ocean?

Three short videos followed the game. All three videos featured the way of plastic into the ocean and its damage. To make sure they understood the problematic, we gave them the prepared poster and the cards that showed little items that contain plastic and let them put the card on the right spots.

Recycling relay race

After all the sitting and absorbing the mass of information the kids needed some running. Two teams ran a recycling relay race with a plastic bottle. The first child was the consumer, who brought the bottle to the second child, the recycling bin, who brought it to the garbage collection, the third child, who had to bring it to the final destination, the recycling factory.

The three R's

After two races the kids were motivated again and Nicole was able to teach them about the three R's: “Reciclar, Reutilizar y Reducir”. Then the kids brain stormed about how to reduce their plastic consume in their every day life until lunch was ready. Wilo and volunteer Kira had prepared a delicious lunch. The kids loved the food.

Kids ideas on how to reduce trash

When lunch break was over, everyone calculated his or her ecological footprint. It was interesting to compare the European interns footprints with the Ecuadorians – there weren't great differences.

Calculating our ecological footprint
Handicrafts with trash

The last point on our list was upcycling trash with the kids. We showed them what we had prepared the day before and started crafting with them. We began with toilet roll owls and then made flower pots. Some of the pots were cut and painted like cats, others just had different colours and patterns. Far after the planned ending of the workshop Wilo, Alwina and Stephanie brought them back to Las Tolas.

A kitten plant pot
Our self-made plant pots

It was a lot of fun to work with the kids and we learned at least as much as they did, though in a different way. We are sure we changed their w

ay of thinking and their future behaviour when it comes to waste and pollution.

We are definitely looking forward to work with the kids again and spread some knowledge about other important environmental topics.

This blog post was written by:

Stephanie M., Environmental Monitoring student, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Dresden

Alwina B., International Forest Ecosystem Management student, University for Sustainable Development Eberswalde

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