Young Eco-Hero Tips for Peacefully 
"Healing" the Planet
Caring for the Environment . . .

by Steve Trash

*Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle your garbage. These are the magic words for making your garbage disappear. They're sometimes called the 3-T's. Try to reduce the garbage you make in the first place. Think before you buy something. How much garbage will it create? Reuse things. Try to reuse old boxes, clothes, and toys. Reusing things uses even less energy than recycling. After you've reduced and reused then . . . recycle all the garbage that is left over. You'll be amazed by the amount of trash that you can recycle. All of these things are recyclable: newspaper, writing paper, aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastic milk jugs, plastic bags, steel cans, and even motor oil.

* Buy recycled stuff. Recycled products look exactly like non-recycled products. You have to look carefully for the recycled content label on the box. This label lets you know that the product is made with materials that have been recycled. Recycling only works when you buy recycled products! Otherwise, recycled things end up going straight to the landfill. Many of the following recycled products can be found at Wal-Mart (notebook paper, index cards, stationery, birthday cards, computer paper, Eco-Writer pencils, cereal boxes, and even flashlights). Look for the recycled label and buy that product.

* Avoid throwaway things! Disposable or throwaway cups, forks, plates, and napkins are made to be used only once and then thrown away. That's not necessarily the best use of our natural resources. When possible, try to use reusable cups, forks, plates and cloth napkins in place of disposables. (My family recently had a very big party. There were more than 140 people at this party, and we used reusable forks, plates, and cloth napkins. When the party was over, there was very little garbage because we had used no throwaways at all.)

* Use reusable things. Why not take a lunch box instead of a paper sack to school? Why not use a cloth napkin instead of a throwaway paper one? Why not use a reusable airtight plastic container instead of a throwaway plastic bag?

* Don't take a bag. If you only buy one or two items at the store, don't take a bag. Who needs it anyway? It just clutters up the car and wastes resources.

* Recycle! Collect your own re-cyclables at home, at school, or in your classroom; then recycle them. Talk to your teacher about recycling.

* Use rechargeable batteries. Do you use batteries? Most people do. If you use a walkman, a flashlight, or a calculator, you probably use lots of batteries. Rechargeable batteries are slightly more expensive, but they last 100 times longer than most disposable batteries. That means you throw away fewer batteries. That means you'll be saving the environment, and you'll be saving money, too.

* Buy recycled stuff. I know I've already mentioned this one, but it's really, really important.

* Educate yourself. Read books about the world around you. It's really an amazing story! Try reading about ecology, the environment, and eco-systems. The library is full of books on all kinds of fascinating subjects. The best thing is that the books are free. They're also reused over and over again. Go get a library card and check out a recycled book today.

* Did I mention . . . buy recycled? Oh yeah, I guess I did.

* Pass it on. Drop off old clothes, toys, books, games and magazines at your local thrift store (Salvation Army Store, Goodwill, or a local children's hospital). Somebody else will love to buy your old stuff. By the way, while you're there, shop around. One of my favorite things to do is shop for toys, hats, clothes, basketballs, dishes, magazines, and books at thrift stores. They're never expensive either. I recently bought a copy of the "Batman" book for 27 cents. What a deal!

* Don't be an Eco-finger pointer! Remember, you and I will never know everything that there is to know about our environment (or anything else for that matter). So, teach others to take care of the environment. But be patient and understanding, and don't ever get "bossy" and "judgmental." (Remember the old saying: "You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar").

* Take the "Young Eco-Hero Pledge" and live by it!

This is an excerpt from The Magic of Ecology by Steve Trash. A great way for kids to learn about ecology, this book shows the reader how to perform 22 really cool magic tricks. Each trick illustrates an ecological principle or concept, and teaches kids how to be Young Eco-Heroes with valuable character education lessons. The book is $14.95 and can be ordered from Free Spirit Publishing at (800) 735-7323.

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