The stark images remain with us – hundreds of dead birds covered in oil on a sandy beach, landfills overflowing with the waste of urban affluence, blue ocean waters marred by swirling garbage patches containing high concentrations of plastics.
The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, to raise public awareness of environmental concerns, and led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts. Now, 44 years later, Earth Day has become an international focal point in the continuing fight to conserve natural resources and protect the environment. This year on April 22, community events are being planned in more than 190 countries to provide information and gain support for environmental issues from climate change to sustainable energy.
Closer to home, most of us participate in very significant activities that contribute to cleaning up the environment – recycling. Cities and counties provide separate trashcans for separating paper, plastics, aluminum cans and yard waste and process them separately, diverting them into recycling processes to create new products. By taking these waste streams out of the landfills, we extend the use of those areas as well as cleaning up our rivers and lakes where trash is often dumped. Children are familiar with this process, and recycling principles are taught and reinforced in schools, so that these practices are passed on to future generations.
Another way we can encourage our kids to embrace recycling is by making it part of their world through play. Sprout Lab’s Recycle HD iPad app offers children the opportunity to learn about the three actions of waste management – reduce, reuse, recycle – in an interactive and engaging format that includes quizzes, pictures and video. Brief “Did You Know?” facts provide definitions of recycling terms in child-friendly terms. Auditory learners can have the text read to them while they follow along, improving their reading skills. Videos bring environmental issues vividly to life. In the Plastics Pollution video, the case for reusing or refusing plastics is strongly made through the visual of a huge pile of garbage containing hundreds of plastic bottles and the impact these materials have on birds and other wild life. The app offers ideas for reusing common items such as printer and toner cartridges, reusing wastewater for agriculture, adopting renewable energy options like wind turbines and reducing energy consumption.
In celebration of Earth Day, Sprout Labs is offering a free download of Recycle HD on April 22.