Teaching Youth How to Install a Garbage Disposal

Last week we introduced a fun activity that taught youth the importance of having a garbage disposal and how a little machine like that can create lots of environmental benefits for their cities. We first taught them how the city waste system works, explaining that upwards of 30 million tons of food waste in America go to landfills each year and end up producing harmful gases in the environment. Then we proceeded to explain that by using a garbage disposal, which is a machine that is installed under the kitchen sink that grinds food into tiny particles which are sent to sewers, cities are able to take that sewage and process it into a fertilizer product or renewable energy. In other words it’s using the existing waste system to process food waste in a much greener method.

As part of the activity we taught them how to install a garbage disposal. We believe that by learning to install one, they will understand the value and they will bring this learning with them down the road. We would like to thank Grind That Garbage for providing us with phenomenal support and resources for our activity.

In a brainstorming exercise we asked the youth if they could think of new ways to process food waste in a green approach. Some of the youth mentioned the idea of composting which we were pleased to hear. Many of these students have already been attending our programs for months so we were happy to know that they’ve been learning quite a lot. For example, in our last post we mentioned that they were learning how to control the carbon emissions that they make and we’ve been discussing ways to turn the carbon emissions that they do make into something useful. They’ve made bottle composts in the past and we challenged them to think of new ways to make composting viable in the long run for thousands of residents. Who knows! They may even be able to come up with some serious applications for them in real life.

Low Carbon Cooking With Bread Machines

In our programs we teach youth the difference between regular diet and a low carbon diet. A low carbon diet (not to be confused with low carb diet!) refers to a diet that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Because food must be produced, packaged, transported, and disposed of when consumed and not consumed, all these steps to providing food contributes to greenhouse gas emissions in our world. Most often, the food system contributes a significant percentage of greenhouse gas emissions. So if every individual makes a conscious choice of following a low carbon diet, it makes a huge difference.

That’s why in our program, we teach youth how they can make greener lifestyle choices that do not compromise consumption of their favorite foods. To do this, we normally take an example of something they normally consume and together, compare it to an alternative that would create less carbon emissions. As an example we teach them how to choose locally sourced foods – like apples – since the further the food is to home, the more gas it takes to transport it, thus creating lots of carbon emissions. We also teach them how they can make food from their own homes instead of always going to the market to purchase them. We teach them Bread Machine Pros lesson on how to use a bread machine to make low carbon bread. And Margaret, who volunteers with us and has been gardening for over 30 years, teaches them how to grow simple foods in their own backyards. She has good knowledge about types of farming practices that produce lots of greenhouse gases and ones that do not to share with the youth.

Besides practical hands-on examples, EENG teaches what a high-meat-eating diet looks like in terms of carbon emissions versus what a vegan diet looks like. We also teach them the nutritional aspect of the foods they choose to eat, so they can decide how to replace certain high-carbon foods with low-carbon ones without compromising on nutrition. So they won’t have to Our goal is to let them know what they alternatives are, so they can make their own decisions in the future.

Earlier, we shared with you a lesson that we do on energy-saving appliances, which is closely tied to this lesson. For instance for low carbon cooking, which cooking appliance and cooking method you choose will obviously result in higher or lower energy use and thus greenhouse gas. So we usually advocate for selecting cooking methods and appliances with low energy use. A great example is how we teach youth which is the best bread machine of 2014 for low carbon bread making. We illustrate some specific things to look out for when buying these. Nowadays, there is a green certification for energy-saving appliances so we teach them how to read and use these certifications.

Some youth wonder, because of the difficulty, how you would accurately judge which product to choose over another at the supermarket since you don’t see how it’s produced or see how far it’s been transported. It’s a good question. Since those things are hard to predict and control, we teach youth about what they can do to control their carbon emissions. We can’t eliminate all emissions, but we tell them that they could minimize trips to the supermarket or walk and bike instead of drive. All these little things add up. Besides, we’ve taught them about what they can make on their own or what volume to buy to minimize food waste. In addition they learn about what they can do with the food waste to minimize greenhouse gases. These are all important things that youth can do.

Choosing Energy-Saving Appliances – Lesson Materials

One of our program’s activities concerns teaching youth how to make decisions in their daily lives that greatly affect the environment. We start small but try to explain to them the magnitude of an outcome when small actions add up.

To illustrate, we have an activity where we install LED light bulbs and regular light bulbs over the course of a few months. This is extremely relevant to the students because it is about something that they use on a regular basis: light. In the experiment, students realize the differences between using energy-saving light bulbs and non energy-saving light bulbs. Moreover, we get students to calculate the cost of the energy. This simple activity gets them to understand that actions that are good for the environment isn’t always more expensive. We get them to question assumptions and think critically on their own decisions.

We try to focus on examples that are relevant to them, so it often includes things that you can find around the house. As another example, we talk about cooking methods. In one of our sessions we were able to invite a few chefs to come to our classes and teach about cooking as it relates to the environment. They brought over a Fissler Vitaquick FIS5859 pressure cooker and demonstrated the energy that was saved from faster cooking times. We try to point to home appliances that usually lie around the house but it’s something that they rarely think about. We think pressure cookers were a good example to show how much energy is wasted if you leave a pot on the fire for a long time. Also, we showed them that using pressure cookers you can make more in a pot instead of cooking a bit at a time.

Not only that, food consumption actually plays a huge part in the environment so the students are learning more about food than just nutrition. The chefs taught them, for example, how a diet that is all meat causes more energy use than a diet that includes more greens. We illustrate how much energy is required to raise a cow, slaughter, and cook it and how much energy is required to make lettuce or broccoli. We’re very lucky to have invited Cook With Pressure chefs Patrick and Alex to our classrooms. They usually run seminars teaching people about food, cooking, and lifestyle choices surrounding food, so read more about them and their pressure cooker reviews at http://www.cookwithpressure.com. We always try to invite people to our sessions to teach the students about a variety of environmental topics so if you think you have something to teach, we encourage you to volunteer.

We make our lessons available online for reference purposes. One of our team members is currently gathering the materials and you can download them from our website once that’s finished. The materials include the LED light bulb activity and cooking activity as described here, as well as other educational resources about saving energy with appliances around the home. And you don’t need to check with us to use them either as they are copyrighted under a Creative Commons license.