Laurens Groen, CEO of Milgro, taught a course in Economics & Sustainability at primary school De Paradijsvogel in The Hague, as part of their ‘secondary education week’. “Young people have the potential to change the world and contribute to the transition towards a circular economy,” Laurens Groen explains. “This audience was very different from the kind of people I normally talk to, but the message is as important as ever.”
Teaching the importance of sustainability is important for fostering awareness and engagement among children. After all, young people are the future of our planet. “If you tell children about the positive effects of proper waste separation and the negative impact of plastics on the oceans, they become immediately involved,” Groen finds. “They are enthusiastic and want to contribute to litter collection and waste separation, but they also quickly come up with smart and creative ways to lead a more sustainable life.”
“There are 7 billion people living on this planet and they have a major influence on the availability of resources. If we continue the way we are currently going, we will need two Earths, which we don’t have,” Groen explained to the pupils. He supported his story with pictures of garbage tips in India, the plastic soup in oceans, and, closer to home, gum in the school yard and plastic bags on the streets. His message is that we should be more careful about our resources, both at school and at home. “We shouldn’t be less bad, but do more good!”
The 12-year-olds listened closely and really connected with the topic. Feline was very impressed by the lesson: “It’s really important that we pay attention to this. I thought the picture of the surfer in the plastic soup was very intense.” Laura was similarly impressed: “It’s a good thing to show these pictures, because I didn’t know about all of this.” Linde’s biggest take-away was the huge amount of food waste: “We throw away one third of our food, that’s so much!”
Teacher Manon adds that children are generally becoming more aware of their environment and that Groen’s lesson further emphasized the importance of sustainability.
De Paradijsvogel is part of the Eco-Schools Network, an international certification for sustainable schools. Students in Eco-Schools are stimulated to initiate their own activities to (further) improve the sustainability of their school.
At De Paradijsvogel, there is plenty of attention for the environment and sustainability, and the school even has its own Eco Team. Pupils, teachers, parents and the janitor regularly meet to brainstorm about ways to improve waste management, for instance by replacing drink cartons by reusable bottles.
Members of the Eco Team: Linde, Laura, Emma and Feline.
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