When I was teaching in the grade school system I infused everything I did with my passion for nature. For a few years I taught grade four science, and it was there that the curriculum covered a section called "Waste and our World".
In class we did activities associated with the 3 Rs - reduce, reuse, recycle, and added several more after some raucous R brainstorming. The students always displayed an unbridled passion for anything they could do that would protect the Earth, like refusing, repurposing, restoring and recovering.
One day the mother of one of my students was dropping off her child after lunch. She told me that whatever we were doing in science was working. I asked her why and she relayed a story that had just occurred.
The mom was making lunch for her daughter, and after emptying some soup into a pot, went to the garbage and threw the empty can in. When she turned around her daughter was standing behind her crying.
"What is the matter?" the mom asked.
"Don't throw that away", her child responded while sniffling back tears and pointing at the garbage, "That can goes into the recycling!"
Teaching is like living simply - you are rarely shown how your efforts affect the people around you. But like this story, we can be assured that people and conditions are being affected, and that our hard work does indeed make a difference.
I thanked the parent for sharing her daughter's emotional environmental moment with me. I will never forget it, and I imagine they won't either.
Children love the earth deeply. We should too.