april stash bust :: guest post from angela flicker

stash bust month

perfect burger diagram grocery tote bag
perfect burger diagram tote by girlscantell

I’m please as punch to introduce you to Angela Flicker (not Flickr!) who blogs over at The Artist’s House and teaches middle school.

A few weeks ago, after personally being inspired by one of Taraʼs ideas, I took the April Stash Bust vow. That day at school, I shared with my students the vow I took, in hopes of using my vow as a learning opportunity to help them grow as well. My students took the bait and soon their minds were open and their mouths chattering.

How does one teach young people to use what they have, instead of buying into the “must consume” attitude? No pun intended.

I think the first step is simply to start the conversation, putting yourself through the same process you would expect them to go through. Often kids are not open to being told what to do, rather their minds need to agree that what is being asked is important. They respond very well to adults who admit that they too are learning and growing. If you want to make a change in your children you must first show that you are willing to change. And so itʼs true, children learn by example.

Sadly I must report that often I have witnessed that kids are more open to change than adults. Yet it’s the adult, growing and changing along side a child, that is the most influential person in the life of that child and the choices they make day to day.
As my students continued to converse throughout the week, building up to Earth Day, they too agreed with this fact. They reported that the most influential aspect that has caused them to be a more conservative consumer was what they saw modeled in their home and school environments. They reported that it was the little things they saw their mentors doing everyday that helped them learn to reuse instead of buy new.

It was the fact the two years ago for a class auction fundraising item, the students made reusable grocery bags, and for the past two years they have watched their parents use these bags, instead of plastic bags, when they bring home groceries.
It was the fact that there was a used paper bin at the front of the classroom that their teacher and fellow classmates pulled scraps from everyday. It was the compost bins their moms used and the “Bioneerʼs” class project of making solar dehydrators that had left an impression on them.

As the week progressed, the students shared with me, and each other, all of the little things they had done to help lessen their imprint on this earth. Students shared stories of picking up trash, making a playhouse out of old boxes when babysitting a young sibling, carpooling or riding their bikes to school, reusing an old coke bottle as a water bottle, making an art sculpture out of the parts from an old tape recorder, and patching multiple holes in a pair of pants with an old shirt that no longer fit.
As the students shared their stories, their excitement grew and they decided they wanted to take their message to the streets.
Soon they were creating projects of their own, out of reusable materials, attaching green messages to them, and planning to hand them out on Earth Day.

These students will be the mentors to their families, friends, and acquaintances. People will see their actions and in turn will be inspired to take action of their own. All it takes is someone to show the way, and a little creative collaboration and attitudes and behaviors will inevitably change.

How can we teach children to have a “how can I reuse?” attitude? We simply need to model that behavior in what we do each and every day. Itʼs not just our children we can inspire. Share with neighbors, discuss with your parents, converse with your colleagues, but most of all lead by example and use your own growth to help others see how they too can grow.

10 thoughts on “april stash bust :: guest post from angela flicker

  1. Angela,
    Thank you for your insightful post. This is why we work with children. Funny, I still maintain the opinion that we learn more from them then they from us. Beautiful writing. You are a natural.
    -Jess Furman

    1. Thanks Jessica. Teachers really do learn so much from their students. Just today my kids reminded me of the importance of laughter and relationships over the school agenda. Sometimes “we adults” forget those things.

  2. My son had a teacher in middle school that did a similar thing and made it a part of her life and showed that to her students. I was always amazed at the ideas he came home with. As a result, we have rain barrels, using reusable bag for groceries and are starting to compost. I am enjoying all of them. Keep it up, please.

    1. Thank you for your wonderful comment. Your son was very lucky to have such an amazing teacher. Education, testing, no child left behind…all of these things are all over the news but often I feel a teachers’ impression on a child isn’t measured accurately with these tests. I’m so glad that you and your son have had this experience. I’m sure your open attitude has had a tremendous impact on him and his impressionable mind.

  3. In grade five I had the most awesome teacher ever. She was what I wanted to be. She was kind, she wore the most amazing clothes, was very french, she was what I thought that a woman was meant to be. I adored her and when she taught us about the environment, which she did often, I listened. She would often put out little ideas like not running the water while we brushed our teeth, turning off the burner on the stove a minute or so before you were done because the heat stuck around for a bit… things that came with a lesson (we learned all about heat retention etc that day) and we found interesting. We would have a little discussion and move on. The most important thing she did was to make us empowered to feel that we, even as children, could make a difference, and in fact, that we were more likely to have a positive impact than our elders simply because, as you say, we were willing to change the way we did things. She taught us about David Suzuki’s world clock, and told us that eventually we would be purchasing water. We thought she was nuts, but look at the world now! Anyway, my point is that we listened to her, we really felt that we were being groomed for something truly important, and we were! I for one integrated her ideas into my lifestyle and when people ask how I got to be so into re-use and living with less, I have to track it back to her. Twenty five years later, she was still one of my greatest mentors.

    I am saying in a really long-winded kind of way that you are most likely inspiring these children for a lifetime, not just the now… and yes, if I think of how many people I have taught a little thing here or a big thing there, I think you are doing a great thing by having planted these seeds, because they really do grow, and sometimes they make deep roots and bloom beautifully!

    1. Andrea,

      Thank you for your comment. Your words really mean a lot to me. So often our students leave and we don’t hear back from them, often we don’t know the positive impact we impress upon a child. I hope that I have made a difference in these students lives; I know my teachers made an impact in mine.

      Thanks again

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *