Change the World Wednesday – 15th Aug

I got dobbed twice last week for the same award. Cool, I am now a double Sunshine Award winner, that’s even better than an Olympic Gold. That’s something that I’ll never win, not unless they introduce leap-frogging supreme with walking sticks as an event.

Water was the theme last week. I didn’t have that much to say, as I am already pretty careful with my water.

The weather has become sunny, but not hot, so still having every-second -day showers. The neighbours haven’t complained yet and my students haven’t noticed, so there seems to be no harm done.

This week’s CTWW challenge is an important one because it’s about education. Educating the kids to do their bit.

This week, if you have kids, think of something which involves your children, which also creates waste or is environmentally unfriendly, and commit to changing it. For example, consider how your baby is diapered and whether or not there is a more Eco-friendly method. What types of materials does your youngster use when creating those artistic masterpieces? Does your teenager drive or walk to school … and what about school supplies? This week is all about greening our kids.


Or …

If you don’t have children, your challenge is to be an observer and then offer recommendations. Take a look at the families around you and talk about what you see working … and what doesn’t. Offer recommendations and helpful tips to assist parents in greening their children.

I have stewed over this challenge all day. You’d think it would be easy after raising 12; you’d think I had all the answers, but it doesn’t work like that.

Instead of offering advice, I am going to show you a situation near my home as an observer in the second part of the challenge.

Just behind where I live is the Rio Cabuçu. It’s close, about a three minute walk. It doesn’t look like a river; no rivers in Rio do, they’re concrete canals. Not at all like the city rivers where I grew up.

I am used to beautiful rivers, clean rivers, rivers with grassy bank, rivers where you can play, fish and scoop out a handful of water and drink it.

The Avon River, Christchurch

But, let me go back to the Rio Cabuçu in contrast.

Rio Cabuçu

You can neither play in, fish from, nor drink this ‘water.’ This photo was taken about a year ago; the river is currently wall to wall at the bend where the water flow is impeded by the rubbish.

The people from the small slum area (r) beside the river and those from the suburb to the left just throw their rubbish into the canal. The kids do the same; the kids are told to do the same. They have the same trice-weekly rubbish collections that we have, but they have no conscience. They are passing this lack of conscience on to their kids.

If you challenge them, they get indignant. The river floods with every rain storm and becomes a raging torrent that fills the canal washing all before it. And the cycle starts again. Household rubbish, tree trimmings, old furniture, dead animals, they even throw concrete rubble and bricks from building projects into the canal.

These families are poorly educated. The parents don’t know how to teach their children, and so the children don’t have any respect for their surroundings.

This is not just a case of advising the parents, it is a case that the whole community needs to be taken to task by officialdom and educated. Anyone like myself would be just considered a busybody.

I walk across this river daily and lament at the artlessness, hold my breath on hot days to avoid the stench, and wonder how can people do this to their own backyard.

This is why it’s so important to educate the kids.


10 responses to this post.

  1. I feel so sad when I think about all the kids that might never get a connection with nature! I neither can understand why people would trash their own surroundings. So sad!



  2. Posted by Alex Jones on August 16, 2012 at 8:51 am

    In London they used to throw all their rubbish in the rivers, and corpses. Most of the London rivers are now buried under concrete, only the Thames is left to see above the ground.



  3. Posted by EcoWarriorme on August 17, 2012 at 7:14 pm

    Sadly it is not limited to the slums of Rio. The mill lade in my home town used to fill up with shopping trolleys and old bicycles and in Glasgow, where I now live, fly tipping is a problem even though the local council will pick up most bulky items for free with a phone call or email. This sort of behaviour tends to be worse in more impoverished areas(relatively speaking) but there is a strong link between multiple deprivations and poor educational attainment – a vicious circle that negatively affects both society and the environment.



    • >EcoWarrior, yes the same here. Lack of education, breeds contempt; and it is a worldwide problem, I know that Rio is not the only place but it is where I could make the observation.

      Thanks for the visit and cmment, appreciated.




  4. Posted by Clare Delaney on August 21, 2012 at 5:00 am

    Thank you for a most thought-provoking article (and great pics to illustrate your point!). I have lived in some affluent neighbourhoods where, contrary to popular belief, many people do exactly the same things you mention – dump rubbish in their locale, don’t care and show no respect, and get massively indignant when tackled. But there was one big difference. The more affluent areas had better services, and so the dumped stuff was quickly and quietly removed. Where required, people paid someone else to remove their stuff. So the neighbourhood looked ‘nice’.
    To me, that’s worse in a way than the dumping in poverty-stricken areas of the world. When you’re living hand-to-mouth and worry about what you’re going to feed your family today, I imagine littering is one of the last things on your mind. More affluent neighbourhoods tend to be inhabited by people with a better education, with more resources, with kids going to better schools, and with the basic living requirements (food, shelter, warmth) taken care of. The (relatively) rich have far less excuse to abuse their environments. (Carbon footprints are also considerably larger than in poorer areas, but that’s a whole other topic….).
    Littering and dumping are a huge abuse of our environment, and you really bring that point home. Thanks again for a great article!

    Clare Delaney



    • >Clare, thanks for your visit and comment, very true. We often have cases where the affluent actually come to dump their rubbish on the roadside in poor neighbourhoods; so your observation doesn’t surprise me in the least. The council does do a clean up every few months, but the following week you would suspect they’d been. The other big issue here is flooding during the summer rains, the people dump their rubbish, the council don’t take remedial action and everybody cries when parts of the city get flooded because of the blocked drainage and people lose all their possessions (uninsured, of course).

      This was the reason, I stayed as an observer this week, to make a statement.

      Thanks again.




  5. Posted by smallftprints on August 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Your post clearly illustrates the importance of education. Kids learn so much from their parents and if the parents are doing the wrong thing … well, that’s what kids learn. It’s one case where the educational system really needs to step up and introduce kids to environmental topics … it seems to me that it’s the only way to break a destructive cycle. Unfortunately, most schools rely on funding, typically from the government … and if the government doesn’t feel the urgency to protect the environment, then they won’t insist that schools teach it. It’s a difficult cycle to break!



    • >S, sadly it’s a case of monkey see, monkey do. That’s how kids learn. Public education here is generally abysmal, something like a minimal green syllabus is paid lip service only. There is no public effort to reinforce the ideas that the kids do manage to get; and until that changes, nothing will.




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