One evening, a couple of years ago, as we sat down to dinner, my daughter remarked, “Mama, we left the TV screen on. We need to off it.” With dinner already running late, the TV screen was the least of my worries. So, I explained to my then almost-4-year-old twins that this was dinner time and we would turn off the TV as soon as we were done with dinner. Not one to be easily deterred, nor one to shy away from an argument, my daughter went on to explain to me that we were wasting power and that is never a good thing. Her brother enthusiastically jumped in to support his sister (I think that might have been the only time he did that) by telling me that I wasn’t “saving the Earth” by leaving the TV on. I was a bit embarrassed by this exchange as I realised that the roles should have been reversed.

This little incident reminded me how important early childhood habits are. As a mother of twin toddlers, with a third on the way, I already had too much on my plate and “saving the Earth” wasn’t high on my priority list. Luckily for us, it was for the twins’ pre-school.

My 6-years-old twins are now in K2 in St James’ Church Kindergarten (SJCK). And I continue to breathe easy thanks to the innovative ways in which their schools have turned Earth-loving into a part of life. One such recent activity was “Dress to Express: Go Green”. SJCK’s Senior Principal and Academic Director, Dr Jacqueline Chung, along with the leadership team, came up with this exciting theme, where the children were asked to come to school dressed in special costumes made from recycled materials. Around 1,700 children from the pre-nursery, Nursery, K1 and K2 levels from all 3 campuses (SJCK Leedon, SJCK Harding, SJCK Gilstead) participated in the “Go Green” event.

KIndergarten kids rocking costumes made out of recycled materials. How cool are these spacesuits!
Spacesuits of the future! Helmets and cardboard boxes mix up with silver foil to create a perfect costume for kids with high ambitions. Image credit: SJCK

Through this activity, the school hoped to inspire children to do their part in saving the environment – I must say that they inspired parents as well. Parents were encouraged to talk to their kids about how they can reduce, reuse and recycle the materials around them.

The exercise afforded us a great bonding opportunity as well, as the kids and I tried to rack our brains trying to figure out what costumes to make and what materials to use for the same. (Ok, I admit, I had help with the actual making of the costumes!)

As I dropped the kids to school on the day, I saw several excited children dressed up as superheroes, princesses and everything in between. There were shields made of egg-cartons, jet-packs made of plastic bottles, tiaras made of cardboard, and capes made of plastic bags and newspapers. My son dressed up as Optimus Prime, in a costume made of recycled Lego boxes painted red and blue. Several other parents and children had put those cardboard boxes to good use too.

KIndergarten kids rocking costumes made out of recycled materials. How cool are these robot costumes built with Lego boxes!
Kids rocking robot costumes built with Lego boxes. (Left) The author’s son dressed up as Optimus Prime. Image credits: (L) Author, (R) SJCK

My daughter was – you guessed it – a princess, wearing a dress made from newspapers. She was joined by scores of other princesses wearing dresses made of everything from paper to plastic bags to bubble wraps. Seeing all those children and teachers (oh yes, they dressed up too) was a reminder of SJCK’s stance on being environment friendly and of their commitment to inculcate the habit in their students.

The teachers also used this opportunity to speak to the children at length about the importance of “going green” and encouraging the children to find different ways to be environmentally conscious. There were ‘show-and-tell’ sessions in the classrooms, where children were invited to talk to their classmates about their ‘recycled’ costumes. During the weekly Chapel session, the teachers talked to the children about being creative, and about the recycled materials that some of the children used, hoping to instil in them creativity and to bring home the message that recycling projects can be cool, especially when we turn our trash into something new and useful.

KIndergarten kids rocking costumes made out of recycled materials. How cool are these gowns made with raincoats and newspapers!
Say Princesses! Newspapers and raincoats are repurposed into gowns for the girls’ day out here. (left) The author’s daughter in a bespoke dress. Image credit: SJCK

I truly believe that one of the best practices that we can instil in our children from a young age is a love for Mother Earth. And schools can play a unique role in environmental protection by educating children about (age-appropriate) environmental issues and helping them become conscientious stewards of the environment.

I hope more and more schools will follow suit by encouraging children to reduce their carbon footprint. And where kids are concerned, we all know that such activities/events make a far bigger impact than a lecture would.

I’m proud to say that over the years, I have turned “greener” thanks to my kids.

– Pooja Bakhshi

Architect and interior designer in a past life and full-time mum to 3 young kids in the present, Pooja is now following her love for writing. Her enthusiasm for (vegetarian) food, health and nutrition and her passion for travel prompted her to start Eat Roam Live. Connect with her on EatRoamLive.com or Facebook.

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