A STUDY GUIDE TO
A BiG TeA PaRtY Sustainable Living educational video available on DVD
A ‘ how to’ for living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly or ‘green’ lifestyle
Written by Elizabeth Fiend
Graphics By VaLerie K
What is sustainability? Sustainable living refers to a lifestyle and set of choices that minimize a person’s ecological footprint. It is a lifestyle that pays attention to the relationship between Earth and humanity. The ultimate goal of sustainable living is to preserve the Earth’s natural ecology, its plants, animals and resources so future generations can enjoy them.
“It’s Elemental” Video Study Guide Table of Contents:
Video Objectives and Synopsis
Part 1: Water Conservation
Part 2: Automobiles Create Pollution
Part 3: How Food Choices Effect the Environment
Part 4: Composting and Reducing Household garbage
This guide is designed to facilitate home study or classroom use of “It’s Elemental” a 27 minute educational video created by BiG TeA PaRtY Sustainable Living. It is intended for use with students in grades 5-11 in courses dealing with issues related to the environment, ecology, sustainability, agriculture, conservation, family and consumer sciences, transportation, nutrition, community relations and political engagement.
Video Overview: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
There are many simple ways to change your lifestyle to become more sustainable, kinder to the earth and all of its inhabitants. A green life is a healthy solution for today’s toxic times. It’s all about choice and empowering both the individual and the community.
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To introduce the concept of living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly or ‘green’ lifestyle.
To address specific environmental problems and provide tips for students, families or clubs so they can make simple changes in their everyday activities to move towards sustainability and making the planet healthier.
To inspire teenagers to take positive action by letting them know that there IS power in the individual. One person does have the ability to change the momentum of society.
To motivate students to become better citizens of Earth and stimulate discussion of sustainability and the interconnected nature of things by showing tweens and teens how their everyday actions fit into ‘the big picture.’
Conclusion: By making informed decisions about their everyday actions people can reduce damage to the environment, improve their own communities, become more independent and save some money.
Video Synopsis: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
“It’s Elemental” introduces students to concepts that lead to living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly or ‘green’ life. This video is full of information about specific environmental problems and suggests easy ways the student can combat issues like air pollution, impurity of our water supply and mass production of food grown with pesticides and lacking in taste and nutrition. This video promotes the idea that there are a lot of simple things each individual can do every day to reduce his or her impact on the planet. The video uses humor, quick editing, music and stimulating visuals all designed to engage kids, young adults, hipsters, grandmas and their families.
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Problem: Water is a limited natural resource and we may run out of it.
Solution: When going about your daily activities cut down on the amount of water you use at home. Don’t put trash or other items into the water system by littering on the street or throwing garbage down the toilet. Keep our water clean!
Problem: Automobiles create a myriad of environmental problems.
Solution: Taking public transportation whenever possible and car pooling are great ways to cut down on automobile use. Riding a bike is another alternative to driving a car.
Problem: Unhealthy food choices are not only detrimental to the individual eater, but also have a negative impact on the environment.
Solution: Seek out locally grown food and local food products whenever possible. This is better not only for the environment and your body but it helps support the local economy too.
Problem: Most household waste, aka garbage, is dumped into landfills or burned creating problems for the environment.
Solution: Cut down on waste by composting kitchen scraps, recycling, reusing, repurposing or donating unwanted household goods.
Our habits and everyday actions affect the environment. Therefore, respecting the environment is a lifestyle choice. When you live a green lifestyle you reduce stress on the planet.
By making informed decisions about their everyday actions students can reduce damage to the environment, improve their own communities, become more independent and save some money.
It’s fun and challenging to change one’s life to be more green.
Part One: WATER Tips on how to conserve and preserve water at home.
Overview: Although we live on a blue planet, 97% of our water is salt and 2% is frozen at the polar ice caps. This leaves only 1% of Earth’s water for drinking. Much of that is being polluted or wasted. Conserve and preserve water in your own home because water is a limited, valuable natural resource.
Prevent water pollution:
Put trash where it belongs, in the waste basket or garbage can, so it doesn’t end up in the water supply.
“Toss it now drink it later’ sounds gross, but it’s true. When you throw trash — q-tips, cotton balls, etc. — into the toilet, it ends up in the water supply, which then needs more processing to make the water fresh again for our use. Put bathroom trash in the waste basket not the toilet.
Don’t litter. When you litter, trash ends up going down the sewer drain and directly into the water supply. Put litter in trash cans.
Check cars for leaking fluids that will wash into the water supply.
Don’t run the water while brushing your teeth. This will save up to 100 gallons of water a month.
Fix leaky faucets and toilets.
Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine when it’s half-full.
Project: The toilet is the biggest user of water in the home. By placing a plastic bottle filled with water into the toilet tank you can displace water therefore saving water every time you flush.
Conclusion: Water is our most valuable natural resource and we have a very limited supply of it. There are many simple ways for an individual to conserve and preserve water. When going about your daily activities cut down on the amount of water you use at home. Don’t put trash or other items into the water system by littering on the street or throwing garbage down the toilet. Put trash where it belongs!
Part Two: AIR Automobiles create a lot of pollution.
Overview: Automobiles create a myriad of problems for the environment.
Air pollution: The average person breathes 3,400 gallons of air a day, making air pollution a problem for everyone. According to the U.S. Environmental Agency, driving a car is probably a person’s most polluting daily activity.
Plants and trees: Pollution from cars also has a devastating effect on plants and trees. Sunlight spontaneously changes the exhaust from cars into a gas called ozone. Ozone injures plants and trees.
Cars create other problems for our environment:
Exhaust from cars is contributing to the greenhouse effect and may be changing the temperature of the planet.
The primary way wildlife is by being run over by cars.
The waste material from old cars — plastic car parts and tires — overburdens the environment as they don’t easily decompose.
Cars create noise pollution.
Alternatives to driving alone in a car: Taking public transportation whenever possible and car pooling are great ways to cut down on automobile use. Riding a bike is another alternative to driving a car. Bikes are cheaper than cars and easy to maintain. Bikes don’t harm the environment like cars do and they can create instant independence and self-reliance for a teenager.
Project: The video further details helpful tips on riding a bike for work or pleasure such as using a ‘tire liner’ to prevent flat tires. A tire liner goes in-between your inner-tube and the bike tire, making it harder for sharp items to puncture the inner-tube which will give you flats. Try putting tire liners on your bike.
Conclusion: Cut down on unnecessary driving. Some alternatives to driving alone in a car are: driving with others, arranging car pools, taking public transportation, riding a bike or walking.
Part Three: Your Food Choices Effect the Environment.
Overview: At every meal you decide what you eat. But you can also make decisions about where and how your food is grown. What you may not realize is that these decisions can have a major impact on the environment.
Fresh is more healthy: On average our food is shipped 1,500 miles before it hits your local supermarket. Studies also show that food loses 40% to 60% of its taste and nutritional value within 48 hours after being harvested. This means it’s important to eat fruits and vegetables that are freshly picked.
Community Supported Agriculture or “CSA”: Community Supported Agriculture is a relationship between farmers and local individuals or families who buy ‘shares’ in a nearby farm, which then supplies them with a season’s worth of food. This arrangement benefits the farmer as their crop is sold in advance and they have money to buy seeds and plants when it is most needed. It benefits the individual or family who has purchased a share in the farm because they are then assured they will eat the freshest, tastiest, most nutritious local produce. Buying from a farmers market is a great option too.
Pesticide use in food production: The foods that contain the most pesticide residue are strawberries, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, peaches, cantaloupes, celery, green beans, grapes and cucumbers. What a scary list! Do you want to eat food covered in pesticide residue? Most CSA’s use little or no pesticides to grow their food. CSA’s and small farms provide their members/customers with a more healthy option than produce grown on a giant ‘factory’ type farm.
Supporting the local economy: By supporting local food producers you will also help the environment by cutting down on the amount of transportation needed to bring your food to the supermarket. Remember, the trucks carrying produce can add pollutants to the environment too, not to mention their unnecessary fuel consumption.
Project: Discuss these topics with your family. Visit a farmers market or farm. Join a food co-op or CSA. Look for locally grown produce in your supermarket.
Conclusion: Think globally, eat locally! Take an interest in your food choices. Make some decisions based on where and how your food is grown. Think about pesticides and how they affect the environment and your body. There is no better way to know how and where your food is grown than to know the person who grew it. Seek out locally grown food and local food products whenever possible. This is better not only for the environment and your body but it helps support the local economy too.
Part Four: EARTH Cut down on household waste by composting food scraps, recycling paper, glass, cans and plastic and reusing, repurposing or giving away old clothes and other household items.
Overview: Most household garbage is burned, which creates air pollution, or dumped into landfills which are giant holes in the ground where trash is buried. Once in the landfill the garbage breaks down very slowly producing toxic gases. Neither choice is very good for the environment. To make things better, try to reduce the amount of garbage you as an individual or family create.
Composting: Leaves and uncooked kitchen scraps can be recycled, instead of being added to the trash, by composting them. Composting is a natural form of recycling where plant matter is turned into a soil-like material that is full of nutrients and very beneficial to your backyard soil and garden plants. Insects, earthworms, bacteria and fungi help out in the process. But it’s up to you to get it started.
Project: Start a compost pile. Begin in the kitchen by saving uncooked food scraps — like carrot tops, lettuce cores or banana peels. Store them in a lidded container or bucket you keep in easy reach. Coffee grinds, tea bags and egg shells can also be saved but NO cooked food, meat or dairy products should be added to the compost pile. The second step is to start a pile outside, either right on the ground, in a bin like a plastic laundry hamper or purchase a composter. Simply add the food scraps to the pile, mixing in grass clippings and leaves. Over time as the pile rots it is transformed into ‘black gold’ — an organic matter that will make a great fertilizer for your garden or yard.
Other ways to reduce waste: Recycle cans, glass, plastic and paper. Consume less, use less, reuse more. Give unneeded clothes or household items to friends or charities instead of throwing them away.
Conclusion: There is a world-wide need for environmentally sound methods of recycling organic and other waste. Composting leaves and kitchen scraps greatly reduces the amount of organic trash that goes into landfills or is burnt. A lot of household items, like clothes or toys, could be reused by others rather than adding them to the trash heap.
“It’s Elemental” Conclusion xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Overview: There are many simple ways to change your lifestyle to become kinder to the earth and all of its inhabitants. The green lifestyle is a healthy solution for today’s toxic times. This lifestyle is all about choice and empowerment.
Make the decisions that will enable you to:
Enjoy a great quality of life
Consume fewer natural resources
Recycle as many things as possible
Figure out ways to cut down on driving
Eat healthy food and support healthy sources of food
Discuss these topics with your family. YOU have the power to make a difference and instigate positive change. How will you use this power?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Pre-viewing Activities: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Everyday actions can be problematic to the environment. Make a list of things you do that may be harming the environment.
Make a list of everyday activities you do that may be helping the environment.
What are some ways you could alter your daily activities to either stop harming the environment or to actually improve the environment?
Record examples of people, events or actions that harm the environment.
Pick a category: air, water, earth and write an essay on environmental problems facing our planet in that category.
What does ‘limited natural resources’ mean? Why is it important to preserve natural resources? Can you think of ways to preserve natural resources?
Do you recycle? What do you recycle? What are other items you could start recycling, that you aren’t recycling now?
Do you litter on the street? Why?
Have you ever visited a farm? Have you ever seen food growing? Make a list of five foods that grow on trees. Make a list of five foods that grow underground.
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Do you want to have a more green lifestyle? Write an essay on why or why not.
Write an essay on ways you can improve your relationship with the planet. Give specific examples of things you could do to make positive change.
Make a list of ways you can change your current habits to fit into a more environmentally friendly lifestyle.
What are some ways to conserve water at home? Are you doing these things? If not, why not? Will you start doing them?
What is the difference between water ‘conservation’ and water ‘preservation’?
How do automobiles harm the environment? How can you cut down on the number of times you are in a car?
Visit your local supermarket. Look at the labels on fresh vegetables or fruits. Make a list of where the foods originated. At home, determine how many miles each fruit or vegetable traveled before it arrived at your store. Does food seem fresh to you?
Pick a category: air, water or earth and write an essay on ways you and others could protect these natural resources.
What is the job of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)? In your opinion are they doing a good job?
What might be some problems for you personally of pesticide residue on food? How about for the environment? Do you want to eat food covered with pesticide residue?
Where does the garbage go in your town after it leaves your house? Examples: Are there landfills? Is the trash burnt? Where is the dump in your town?
Why is recycling important? Will you try to recycle more often and recycle/reuse more things? What are some things you aren’t recycling/reusing now that you could recycle/reuse?
Why does littering harm the environment and your community? Will you stop littering?
Write a description of the growing habits of 3 fruits and 3 vegetables.