News and Media

Reducing plastic water bottles

jondeethree_250Green Cross CEO Mara Bun interviewed Jon Dee, NSW Australian of the Year, Planet Ark Founder and global campaigner to ban plastic water bottles. Jon talks about his passion for encouraging young environmentalists.


Mara: As a father and a green leader, how important is it for kids to get involved?


Jon: With our kids we try to instill a sense of environmental values from the earliest time - we encourage them to interact with the environment and this sets them up for life. jondeetwo250Kids can have a huge impact on how families make choices.


When we started Planet Ark's tree planting day, many thousands of kids got their hands dirty planting trees for the first time. They tell their parents about it - and then parents start thinking differently. As kids watch trees grow, they have a stake in the environment. It's a great way for kids to put down roots in their community.


For some kids planting a tree can be their first act of community service. The values are implanted and they last.jondee250


Mara: How can environmental education make a difference?


Jon: Education is everything. When kids learn about how big the waste problem is and then learn how to recycle properly, they take the message home. They teach their parents how to do it.


After we launched our recycling website, more than 1.3 million Australians got involved - and kids played a huge role in making that happen.


Mara: How do you feel about green schools?


Jon: Schools can bring about real change in attitude through education and measureable change in environmental outcomes. The changing habits and choices that come about through green schools can influence kids over their entire lives.


Schools are such wonderful environmental hubs. They can bring a whole neighborhood together.


Two weeks ago, Monte Sant' Angelo Mercy College in Sydney's north banned the sale of plastic water bottles and announced their investment in water refill stations. It was so inspiring, building on the work we did in Bundanoon before.


What happens in our schools and things that inspire Australian students are the things that cut through to the Australian public generally.


Mara: How easy can it be for a school to ban plastic water bottles?


Jon: It's important that kids have access to drinking water - that's the main thing. It's definitely true that if sexy, high tech water refill stations are installed then kids see them as cool and want to use them.


But lots of terrific bubblers can be installed for not much money at all and sometimes the best thing that can be done is to ensure that existing bubblers are properly maintained.


Kids can have fun decorating old bubblers and celebrating them with art, for example.


And a simple water refill station can be purchased for as little as $1,500 - if its part of an education program like Green Lane Diary, kids will fall in love with these stations and they will be vandal proof.


It would be terrific if local groups like Rotary and Lions clubs got behind this drive. Local Councils can become a part of the program and if schools connect with their local water company, they can help as well.


The key thing is to ban the sale of water bottles in canteens and to encourage kids to carry their own refillable bottles. It's a hip thing to do. Plus its healthy - because bottled water is not as good for your teeth and drinking water is so much better than drinking fizzy drinks.


So for parents, the benefit is clear - encouraging kids to refill their water bottles costs less, is healthier and is the green thing to do.

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The Diary

The Diary

Learning about environmental problems and what part our actions play in them is important so that we can make wise choices in how we live our lives. Find out what you can do right now that will make a difference forever!


The Green Lane Diary is a curriculum linked education program designed by environmental educators to help 8-13 year old children become aware of the stresses our planet confronts and how sustainable living can make a difference.

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