Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Waste doctor

Recently I was requested to educate something about my profession at the child's primary school. Mmm, difficult in these modern times. I am not a well recognised traditional baker, butcher or policeman. In fact, I am active to develop new sustainability businesses in the chemical sector. In this sector, I deal with material scarcity and recycling challenges. In addition, new "smart" materials are with increased functionality, such as self healing components, reverse-able adhesives and anti-malaria coatings. Interesting, but how to explain this to 4 - 5 year old kids?

In the street near the local shopping centre and I saw a lot of litter/disposals on the street. That's it I thought! Let's show the kids in my children's classroom the recycling significance of waste on the street. From now on, I am a "waste doctor". Together with my daughter Imme (7 years old) and son Aron (4 years old) we collected empty can's from the street. Imme and Aron were very enthousiastic to assist me! In less than half an hour, 50% of our plastic bag was filled! Enough stuff for the education. At home, I washed and emptied the cans. In addition, I collected some (clean) waste plastic, paper and glass jars which we separate already at home.

Finally, I prepared a power point presentation with pictures only and a simple "waste game". I showed the kids the value of waste. For instance, from cans you can make (parts of) a fancy race car. From plastic bottles, you can make a new warm fleece jacket. In other words, I tried to realize them that their waste can be turned into a new car or jacket! But I also showed them: this is not possible when all the litter is put together in one waste bag. In order to make new products from waste, it needs to be separated, as you know. I invited them to participate the "waste game" and separated the waste I took from home and the street. In less than 5 minutes, Aron's classroom mates had separated the glass jars, plastic, paper and cans. Even the plastic closures were separated from the glass jars. In the end I was glad to notice how children can change their look at waste so quickly and how to deal differently with it to give waste a new life (close loops).

However, to close loops and generate future sustainability business I realize there is still a lot of work to do. In later blogs more about that. But for now, I wish you a sustainable and healthy new year!

Jan Willem

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