A Helping Hand in Sustainable Development...

Monday, 22 September 2008

I set out to discover what is 'really' being done to educate our country in the move towards being green. 

Now, I know from experience that when you sit a child down in a class with a book and preach about the world and it's issues, things get a little boring and out of perspective. It's another lesson to learn, another snippet of information to revise and another minute of a life wasted.

Get me out of the classroom, make me feel special, give me some responsibility and a chance to have fun and I'll remember the day for the rest of my life.

There is of course a government initiative to educate our children and reeducate our adults. Reports have been written, agendas have been set and all will be published for the world to see. This has been happening over the last few years, but of course unless you are involved directly or are scouring the net for answers, the results are hidden in a mountain of paperwork and promises...

The 'Sustainable Development' Government website states that:

"Formal education has a crucial role to play in raising awareness of sustainable development among young people. It gives them the skills they need to put sustainable development into practice in later life and form good habits at an early age.

On behalf of the Government, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) aims to ensure that sustainable development is embedded in the core education agenda across all education and skills sectors. In 2003 they launched the Sustainable Development Action Plan for Education and Skills. The action plan is organised around four objectives :

  • Education for sustainable development
  • The environmental impact of the Department and its partner bodies
  • The environmental impact of the education estate
  • Local and global partnership activities

Sustainable Schools website

DfES is developing a web-based service, Sustainable Schools , which will bring together sources of advice and practical support for teachers and school heads and governors. Sustainable Schools is designed to provide an on-line community, disseminate good practice and offer a shop window for the many schemes to promote their service to schools."


DEFRA, The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is a UK government department. Their ultimate aim is 'to enable everyone to live within our environmental means'.

Reading through their Sustainable Development pages, they are obviously moving in the right directions in theory and practically speaking doing everything they can to filter down the 'action' through schools, teachers and communities. The introduction on the main page is a direct, straight forward, no nonsense statement, we all need to listen to:

"The past 20 years have seen a growing realisation that the current model of development is unsustainable. In other words we are living beyond our means. From the loss of biodiversity with the felling of rainforests or over fishing, to the negative effect our consumption patterns are having on the environment and the climate. Our way of life is placing an increasing burden on the planet - this cannot be sustained.

The increasing stress we put on resources and environmental systems such as water, land and air cannot go on for ever. Especially as the world's population continues to increase and we already see a world where over a billion people live on less than a dollar a day, more than 800 million are malnourished, and over two and a half billion lack access to adequate sanitation.

A widely-used and accepted international definition of sustainable development is: 'development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' - Globally we are not even meeting the needs of the present let alone considering the needs of future generations.

Unless we start to make real progress toward reconciling these contradictions, we all, wherever we live, face a future that is less certain and less secure than we in the UK have enjoyed over the past fifty years. We need to make a decisive move toward more sustainable development both because it is the right thing to do - and because it is in our own long-term best interests. It offers the best hope for securing the future."

Extract taken from the
UK Sustainable development Government website


Now I feel a little better that so many things are in place, being ticked off and implemented, but a small cynical part of me says it may be there in theory, for the sake of reports, to show the world we care. But is any of it actually flowing through the system and watering the 'grass roots'?

I know that when I step outside the door, when I turn on the TV, all I see shoved in the face of 'communities' is the marketing magic of consumerism. At every turn, in every view on every bus, it's there. So where is the knowledge and encouragement we need from our 'so called elders'?

I have seen a few new hoardings for the 'Love Food' campaign and Leicestershire's reusable bag's ad (I didn't know the are given them away for free!) But I still feel that these green issues are all a bit 'alternative thinking' and that I'm only noticing the tiny changes because I'm looking for them.

As I don't have a child of school age, I can't tell you if the teachings are hitting home yet, I'd like to hear from others, in any country, what is your child being taught and how? Do they come home excited about environmental issues? How to you encourage and develop these ideas?

It's all very well having a mountain of websites to scour through, games for children to play online, reports and agendas, adverts and ideas, but truly the best way to teach your children is through spending time with nature. Learn about the basics of life, water, air, weather. Let your child see the beauty in the world and learn to respect and admire our planet.


Jade of the Jungle said...

I agree, it's so important to teach kids things when they're young.

I'm just waiting for the day that the ideas of "environmentally friendly" and "green living" aren't even in our vocabularies any more because everyone's just doing it as a matter of course!

J x

Frugal Trenches said...

Absolutely - the only way is to lead by example - time spent green living, not just reading about it!!