Environmental education in the nursery: “getting a grip on plastic waste!”
The seven Minihaus München nurseries have received the EcoKids award for a third time. The aim of the “ÖkoKids – KindertageseinRICHTUNG NACHHALTIGKEIT” [EcoKids Nursery for Sustainability] project of the Landesbund für Vogelschutz in Bayern e.V. [Bavarian Regional Association for the Protection of Birds] is to raise the environmental awareness of even the youngest children in the crèche and nursery school.
This year’s Ecokids projects in the Minihaus nurseries focused specifically on plastic waste: why is there so much plastic waste? What can I do myself to avoid waste? “The topic is so current at the moment, and we want to let the children know that even they can contribute to protecting the environment,” explains project manager Silvia Wick. This was not just about how to recycle plastic waste, but above all also about how to use resources carefully and not create waste in the first place.
The projects taught the children that a lot of everyday plastic items have environmentally-friendly alternatives: for example, a small yogurt in a plastic container can be replaced with a larger one in a recyclable jar or cling-film for the morning’s snack with a reusable snack box.
One nursery group started a small hands-on project. The children made a huge collage of the oceans and put it up on the wall, with a discussion on the problem of plastic waste in the world’s oceans being held with the children beforehand. For two days, children collected the plastic waste they had in their snack boxes – yogurt pots or muesli bar packaging, for example – and stuck it to the collage. The children didn’t think that looked very nice, so they made a plan: whenever we manage a day when no child in the group has any plastic packaging with them, we can take one piece of waste “out of the sea”. The group then worked very enthusiastically over the next four weeks to “fish” the plastic waste back out of their ocean collage. To do this, the children had to check very carefully what parents were putting in their snack boxes.
“The children then sit at the breakfast table at home and educate their parents,” Silvia Wick is proud to report. And what do parents think of that? “They are delighted that the children have such great awareness,” says the project manager with pleasure. Quite apart from that, the project strengthened the feeling of community in the groups: “Together we can do it!”
Just like last year, Covid once again made it impossible to present the award at a live ceremony, so all the nurseries received their award in an online event, getting their certificates and ceramic plaques, which now clearly identify every nursery as an EcoKids 2021 facility, through the post beforehand.
Protecting the environment and environmental education have now become permanent fixtures in the Minihaus routine. “The children are so enthusiastic about it,” Silvia Wick is delighted to report. “And of course, that also motivates us to keep going” - so the seven Minihaus nurseries have signed up for the EcoKids project again in 2022.