While home schooling is not an option for most – others may find this next question a tad controversial. Have you ever thought about the impact mainstream education has on your carbon footprint?
A few years ago I worked my business around home-schooling my son, and while the business is no longer in existence … (6 years later I am ‘still’ homeschooling my son) back in the earlier days of our adventure we looked at the topic of human impact on animal habitat and the Earth (that is his project in the picture above). We also looked at climate change and discussed what ‘carbon footprint’ meant. Later for fun we did a comparison exercise when it came to ‘going’ to school vs ‘schooling at home’.
Here is what we observed . . .
- I save on petrol and car wear and tear and thus pollution, by not having to get to school every day (whether by car or public transport). I don’t have to travel to school for teacher meetings. I don’t have to waste their electricity providing me a meeting room. All correspondence is done via email or phone.
- I don’t have to buy school uniforms or bags etc. or replace those that go missing. Imagine the saving on our carbon footprint by cutting out the need for production of such items?
- We don’t have to buy school lunches – either to pack or to purchase at the school tuck-shop, thereby reducing our need for packaging and our need to freeze ice-bricks to keep lunches cool. It also eliminates food being brought home ‘un-eaten’ due to the ice bricks not doing their job, or because my child didn’t eat the food. Making lunch at home ensures a healthy diet and nothing is wasted. Scraps are put straight into the compost or worm farm.
- The vegie patch, compost bin and worm farm have become part of our ‘home schooling’ curriculum. My child sees a direct correlation, and loves being involved.
- Paper isn’t wasted, it’s re-used or shredded immediately. Shredded paper is then either taken to the pet shop (for use in cages), put in the compost, worm farm or mouse cage, or used to pack fragile parcels for posting.
- We don’t need to wrap school books in plastic or contact to preserve their school life. Our resources are sent to us via mailed workbooks – as are some resource library books and audio/visual materials, which are then returned after use for re-use for future students. Any textbooks purchased are easier to keep in good condition for resale because they’re not beaten up throughout the school year from transportation in school bags. Over time more and more work is able to be done ‘on-line’, saving even more paper, postage, freight costs, petrol, fumes and time.
- We save money. We don’t need to ‘re-sell’ uniforms at the end of the year, or feel dreadful if we’re unable to ‘re-sell’ them.
- As rental tenants, we’ve never had the luxury of air-con, not that we could really afford it. So if on the rare occasion it gets too hot in the house and the ceiling fans give no relief, we go and work at the local library where we use the library’s air-conditioner (also saving power bill). The library environment also ensures work gets done, provides a change of scenery and is close enough to catch a bus and leave the car at home.
- The local mainstream school has one less child using their water supply, sewerage, and power. And one less child contributing to the school rubbish ending up in landfill.
- We save on doctor’s bills and are healthier, both physically (because we are exposed to less school yard bugs) and mentally (because school room and school yard stress isn’t there). We don’t need as many medicines to get through a school year nor visit the doctor as often (nor need head lice treatments!). If you think of the footprint required to make medicines and head lice treatments, including their packaging – it soon adds up, and of course again we didn’t have to ‘drive’ to buy or use any of these things.
- Lastly, we choose to use a brand of computer, which, with each new year, uses more and more eco-friendly components.
So, as you can see, home-schooling reduces our consumption, our carbon footprint and of course provides us with other benefits as well, but regardless of whether you’re home schooling or not, hopefully there is some food for thought here in how you go about your daily lives, and look at ways at reducing your carbon footprint by revisiting some of your habits and making some better choices on how to go about things?