How “green” are my Jeans?
Could you write a biography of your jeans that indicates what’s in them, where and by whom each component originated and was then manufactured or assembled, and how these may have traveled from sites of the resources through manufacturing and eventually to the site of purchase?
What are our options regarding when and where to purchase items and how to dispose of them?
These questions form the basis for a two-year program designed to help youth learn how their choices as consumers impact the health of our environment, both locally and globally.
Finger Lakes ReUse is one of the expanding number of organizations that seek to reduce the many negative environmental impacts attributable to current consumer and production practices. In their recently funded Environmental Justice Community Impact Grant from the NY DEC, ReUse included an educational partnership with Words Into Deeds. This was designed to introduce local youth to the underlying principles and practices of reusing, and get them actively engaged in raising public awareness about the need for a new paradigm of consumer behavior.
On-site explorations of the stores are coupled with age-appropriate workshops that link this consumer opportunity with Human Rights principles and the Sustainable Development Goals. Participants have included youth from pre-school through college ages, with activities at both the ReUse stores and the participants’ school or meeting venues.
Discussions linking the reuse concept to Human Rights, using the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a guide, and the Sustainable Development Goals are presented as interactive exercises using age-appropriate approaches and games designed by Words Into Deeds. For many, the resources available at ReUse stores were new discoveries.
URBAN 4-H PROJECT
The Ithaca Urban 4-H, under the direction of Ramona Cornell, presents after-school and summer programs. For the summer, 2018, participants were introduced to the reuse concept through the design of a fashion show. The younger children selected items donated by ReUse to model at a gala show for their peers, parents and community members, during which the older students presented brief “biographies” of the items, including blue jeans, shoes, plastic jewelry, a wide range of accessories, and sports equipment. As a backdrop, other members of the group made a wall hanging depicting their take-away images from the project.
ITHACA MONTESSORI PROJECTS
Teachers at the E. A. Clune Ithaca Montessori School invited Words Into Deeds to help expand their elementary and middle school curricula to promote citizenship skills based on the UDHR and SDGs and using SDG #12, Responsible Consumption and Production as the focus. Launched during the summer, 2019, a series of workshops helped teachers gain better understandings these principles and objectives, and design classroom activities to engage students. Background lessons in the fall term are being followed by outreach activities during the winter and spring sessions.