Celebrating Earth Day by Margaret Hart

I like being organized. I like to be able to find things quickly and easily. But lately, I have been overwhelmed by all the paper that has flooded my son’s backpack, making it’s way into my home and cluttering up my family inbox. I’m drowning in school flyers, and they seem to pile up so quickly, that when I want to find something, it’s buried under two feet of spelling tests and mail that has yet to be sorted.

This week is starting out particularly busy, as it’s the first full week back from spring break. Today, my son came home with a mountain of flyers: a flyer for ice skating lessons, a free ticket to a local circus, the schedule for the upcoming book fair, the flyer for the local nature center’s family hiking event, a flyer from the local theatre announcing upcoming classes and shows, a flyer announcing the local police department bicycle helmet giveaway, a flyer for the NY Giants Youth Football Camps, the YMCA sign up for spring sports flyer, the flyer reminding parents about the school’s art show this week, an order form to buy tickets for the school’s Fifth grade performance of The Jungle Book along with an order form to pay for advertisements in the program, a half sheet of paper with a note reminding parents of a half day of school this week due to professional development, a student council flyer announcing a fundraiser to benefit a local shelter for mothers and babies, and last but not least, a tiny slip of paper reminding parents that students would return to class LAST Friday from their spring break, due to a snow day that had to be made up—I guess that one got lost.

In the digital age in which we live (not to mention everyone’s consciousness being raised by the need to recycle and conserve and save the environment from unnecessary waste) it seems that school’s ought to be able to deliver all this paper electronically. Most moms I know (myself, included) usually quickly rifle through the paper that comes home from school and toss it in the trash!

The school has a weekly PTO e-newsletter, and a website, and uses both to communicate most of the school’s news and events and calendars. There’s even a Facebook page that isn’t used now but could be utilized for basic announcements and schedules. And I’d be willing to bet that the majority of families have at least one smart phone, and that many, if not most, own a tablet or have some type of computer and printer in their home. So access to electronic information should be a no-brainer. 

According to PTO sources, there are school district requirements for the dissemination of specific information on paper, so while we may not be able to get rid of all paper, we should at least try to reduce the volume. I’m sure our school is not unlike other elementary school’s where the big copier is always breaking down, in part, due to the large volume of copies that need to be made by teacher’s for classroom work. Adding to that number, at least at my son’s school, is 750 copies of every paper flyer that goes home in a backpack! That’s a lot of trees!

We just celebrated Earth Day this past Monday in my son’s classroom. We made Pine Cone birdseed feeders for birds. The kids loved them. They loved squishing their hands in the seed as they covered their cones, which had been frosted with vegetable shortening (we opted not to use peanut butter due to nut allergies in class). They were excited to take them home and hang them on a tree. They loved listening to poems we read about birds.

It was a simple project but one the kids really enjoyed. They understand the need to be kind to our planet. They are growing up with recycling in school and at home. They get it.

If kids can get on board, and find creative ways to recycle and reuse, and to preserve our natural resources, certainly adults can, too.

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  1. 2 Responses to “Celebrating Earth Day by Margaret Hart”

  2. I understand your frustration, Margaret. But here’s the flip side. My son’s school is “paperless.” This means that you MUST check your e-mail EVERY DAY to download and print out important flyers for upcoming events. In theory, it’s great for the environment. In terms of practicality, it’s a PIA. I can’t tell you how many events or important information I have missed either because I am not e-mail obsessed, and don’t check my e-mail regularly or the forms won’t download properly, or my printer is jammed or low on ink, so the forms won’t print. Let me tell you, it is more of a hassle than you could imagine. It’s great when you need the school calendar or the lunch menu or even general information. But if forms need to be filled out in a timely manner or important events are coming up, I would much rather sift through papers and tack the important ones on the fridge than struggle with my printer to get the darn notices to print!

    By Cara Potapshyn Meyers on Apr 23, 2013

  3. I’m sure there are a lot of parents who agree with you. I think the plan for our school is to send out paper for important forms, like field trips and such. We’ll see how it goes next year.

    By Margaret Hart on May 15, 2013