Wednesday, September 30, 2020

World Wednesday- You Can Change the World

Bell, Lucy. You Can Change the World: The Kids' Guide to a Better Planet
October 6th 2020 by Andrews McMeel Publishing
Copy provided by the publisher

When 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth (January 1st 1990 by Andrews McMeel Publishing) came out, I was in charge of the school Ecological Club at Seven Hills Middle School in Cincinnati, where I taught 6-8th grade Latin. We consulted the book for ideas; we got recycle bins for paper for each classroom, sold cloth lunch bags, and lobbied the school cafeteria for can and bottle recycling. 

This was 1989. Many of those students probably have middle schoolers of their own.

Enter Australian author Lucy Bell's You Can Change the World. Unlike the stripped down paperback I remember, this new book is beautifully illustrated with color illustrations, and the hardcover I have has "Paper from responsible sources". When it comes to content, the book is arranged somewhat similarly to 50 Simple Things, but has a wealth of other material as well. 

Topics such as plastic, clothing, food, gardening, energy, and animals are all covered, with an added chapter on kindness that makes this feel truly New Millenial. (Remember, in 1990 we were still dealing with Yuppies, the Gulf War was brewing, and there were a lot of power shoulder pads. Kindness was not in the forefront of everyone's mind the way it is today.) 

Each chapter has an overview of the topic with basic information on why it is critical to the well being of the planet, and then offers several activities, biographies of people trying to make a difference in that area, and tangential subjects. For example, the chapter on food covers the slow food movement, bees, and butterflies. There is a lot of information; I now know everything I need to know about growing microgreens.

It makes me sad that we are still trying to figure out so many very basic things we could all be doing; the 1990 date was significant for the publication of 50 Simple Things; there was a renewed interest in the environment because of the twentieth anniversary of Earth Day. That's when I got my first cloth grocery bag and started saving all of my plastic bottles and driving them to a recycling facility out in the country a couple of times a year. Sadly, it's still not easy to recycle many things.

Anything that motivates young people to pay attention to the environment is great, and the stories of young activists add another dimension to this how-to guide. 

This book seemed somehow fancier to me; it discusses things like organic cotton t shirts and buying reusable straws. I can't see ever spending $34 for a t shirt; buying clothes from the thrift store seems like a much more realistic and helpful way to go, and I can just drink from a cup or can. Also, does anyone ever have enough leftover strawberries that making jam seems like a good option? I would have instead talked about canned or frozen food, which is a good way to preserve items so they don't spoil, and cans are easily recyclable. (And yes, I repurpose plastic containers for freezing produce. There is hardly ever whipped topping in a whipped topping container at my house!)

Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. The city of Charlotte provides everyone with bins for recycling and we fill them up and take them out every couple of weeks. Our library branch also has a recycling container for plastic bottles and several bins for recycling paper. My heart almost stops if I see a plastic bottle of sheet of paper in a trash can!