Air Quality Health Index classroom kit, grades 5 and 6, environment: chapter 19

E. Think Renewable

Small field of corn below a clear blue sky

When you buy something, think about the full life of the product. What is it made of? What are the raw materials - are they renewable or non-renewable? Are they local or from another part of the world?

Think about the steps needed to bring an item to you. What renewable or non-renewable resources are used to extract and process the raw materials? What resources are used to manufacture the product and distribute it to stores and to you?

What about when you use it? Is it something you can reuse or recycle or does it end up in a landfill?

If possible, buy local products made from renewable resources. Try to pick ones without much packaging. The average meal travels 2,500 km to our plate. To get there, the elements of the meal probably travelled by fossil-fuel-based transportation, such as motor vehicles, planes, trains, and marine vessels. When we buy local products, we cut down the travel time of that product, which helps to decrease pollution, including air pollution.

Even if you do use products from renewable resources, remember that they need to be renewed! Plant a tree or garden at home or school. Trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, and convert it to oxygen, which we need to breathe. (This process is called photosynthesis.) They are also natural air filters, breaking down pollutants and reducing dust. Trees provide shade and cool buildings in the summer without air conditioning. They provide shelter from wind in the winter.

Plant a Tree

Invite a nursery representative to come talk about different kinds of trees, and in what conditions they like to grow.

Go online to find out what trees need to survive in your ecozone, and which trees are the best natural air filters. If trees cannot live in your ecozone, think of another action you can take.

Ask for advice on the ideal place to grow a tree near your school.

Decide on an appropriate dedication for the tree.

Get permission from the principal.

Raise funds, apply for grants, or seek a donation from local businesses.

Ask parents to join in for a dedication ceremony.

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