Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!
Recycling is kind of an old and not so efficient concept… We should still do it, but just recycling can be an excuse to still keep polluting. Recycling is not enough to save the earth.
Recycling still takes a lot of energy in the production and transportation of materials. It is important to recycle, but it is even more important to reduce our consumption and reuse items whenever we can.
The ancient hunter-gatherer owned in their lifetime only about a handful of items. The modern person will own a few million items in his or her lifetime.
We don’t have to buy that much or use that much. We can do with a lot less, putting our time and energy into more important things than things… Like friends for example!
SO let’s think about it more… As consumers, we're a pretty wasteful lot.
Consider how many times you’ve bought more than you need, then tossed half of it in your rubbish bin.
Now imagine everyone else doing this, in places all over the world. That's an awful lot of garbage that goes into landfills and, from there, contributes to greenhouse gas emissions. And that's not to mention the rubbish that ends up in our waterways and oceans, where it does untold harm to marine life.
We can help address this problem by adopting the mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
With a little more thought, we can all change our habits so that we throw out less garbage. It's as easy as developing a few new practices when shopping and in the kitchen, and very soon it becomes second nature. And Mother Nature will thank us for it.
We can make a difference, and it is our responsibility to do it. Buy less, use what you have for longer or convert it to other uses, and if you have to get rid of it than recycle it.
By the way, watch this:
If you see something, do something, it's the awesome thing to do!
Bring: Any Bottle (for spin the bottle), Reused Plastic Bottles, Old Newspapers
Encourage your students to think about the topic by introducing it and then asking some questions such as:
- What do you do with the garbage at home?
- How can we reduce the amount of rubbish we make?
- Why is it important to recycle?
- What else can you recycle or reuse?
Yoga Spin the Bottle
- Two and half million plastic bottles are used every hour in the USA alone (sorry I couldn’t find global numbers… please search for your country) with just a quarter of them being recycled
- A plastic bag that is not biodegradable can take up to 400 years to be broken down
- Every year, millions of sea creatures die because of the plastics disposed into the ocean
Sit in a circle, and spin the bottle in the centre. When the bottle stops the person that the wider part of the bottle faces asks the person that the narrower part of the bottle faces “What do you recycle?”
The person asked answers the question and does the yoga pose for that item.
If they are having a hard time making up poses, the teacher can help of course.
For younger kids yoga can change the question to “What is your favourite animal?”, and for older kids you can ask “What can you reduce or reuse?”
Catchy Names - Plastic Bottles Version
You will need a bunch of plastic bottles for this game.
(Remember: try to find plastic bottles in the recycle bin and clean them - buying new plastic bottles defeats the purpose of teaching children to reduce, reuse, and recycle!)
Photo by tanvi sharma on Unsplash
Standing in a circle, the teacher throws a plastic bottle in a wide arc to someone across the circle while saying that person’s name. Each person in the circle does the same and then keeps their hands up to mark that their name has been called. Once everyone has thrown and caught the plastic bottle and the plastic bottle is back in the teacher’s hands one cycle is complete. Each person in the circle needs to remember who they received the ball from and who they threw the ball to, it's a pattern now. We will continue repeating this pattern. Do it a few times until it becomes smooth and then you can:
- Add more plastic bottles, throwing them one quickly after the other in the pattern created
- Reverse the direction of the pattern
- Break up the circle and continue throwing in the same pattern while everyone walks randomly around the room (at this stage, make sure you make eye contact before they throw the plastic bottle)
- Pass the plastic bottle without using your hands at all; be creative!
It is FUN!
You are the Newspaper
- The average paper consumption for Americans is about 700 pounds each year which is more than 6 times the global average (it is estimated at 110 pounds.) If we want to convert the annual consumption of Americans to a lifetime consumption of trees then that would translate to an average of 465 trees per person
- Half a million trees have to be cut down just to produce the Sunday newspapers each week in the USA alone. Recycling a single days worth of the New York Times could save 75,000 trees or more.
- If Americans recycled all their newspaper that would translate into 250 million trees a year
- The production of recycled paper causes only 25% of the pollution caused by the production of new paper
- Most people in America all use at least seven trees each year, through wood, paper and other types of products that use trees. That is over 2 trillion trees throughout the course of the year when you think about it… and remember that the Amazon is still being cleared today at the rate of about 100 acres a minute!
Put some cool dance music on and hold a newspaper. Everyone stands in front of you and need to imitate with their bodies everything you do with the newspaper. You can:
- Flap the newspaper in the air like a wave
- Lift it up and take it down
- Fold it and open it again
- Twist it
- Move the top or bottom corners separately
- Blow on it
- Crumble it to a ball
- Roll it on the floor
- Tear the newspaper
Yoga with a Newspaper Sheet
Give each kid one newspaper sheet (take the staples out beforehand)
- Stand on the newspaper in Mountain Pose
What is the newspaper made of?
- Trees – Stand on the newspaper in tree pose
Who likes to live in trees?
- Birds – Standing on one newspaper, do the stork pose holding hands with a friend, flapping your hands wings and balancing on one leg
- Monkeys – Do the monkey pose with a friend on one newspaper, standing about a foot away from each other back to back with feet apart, bending forward and holding each others’ hands between the legs. If you feel steady enough, you can separate your bums and fall away from each other counterbalancing and enjoying a wonderful stretch here.
- Koala bears – Humans cut trees and the Koalas suffer because of loss of food and habitat. Stand on your newspaper with legs wide apart, bend towards one leg and hold onto it like a koala holding to a branch. Keep your legs straight for a better stretch.
So if we throw away the newspapers in the bin there will be fewer trees for birds, monkeys, koalas, snakes, spiders and many other creatures to have fun on.
And if we keep buying things, use things only for a short time, and throw away things eventually the whole world will be full of rubbish. It actually already is… Have you heard about the garbage islands in the ocean?
- There are 5 huge garbage islands in the oceans, this is plastic visibly floating on the surface of the ocean (while most if it actually already sank down)
- The biggest one is the Pacific Ocean’s Plastic Island, which is at least as twice as big as the state of Texas
- The average American will produce more than 100 tons of rubbish in their lifetime, where do you think it all goes?
Who likes to hang out by the garbage?
- Mouse – Do Child Pose on your newspaper. You can use your hands to be the mouse ears and sniff around like a mouse
- Rat – On the newspaper, begin in Mouse Pose and slowly roll forward, bringing half your weight to the top of your head to be a big rat
Who likes to chase after rats?
- Cats – On your newspaper, On hands and knees, place your palms on the mat shoulder-width with your knees directly under your hips. Look down towards your belly button, rounding your back like a curious cat, look up, bringing your belly down, like a happy cat
How many legs does the cat have? Four.
- Can you do a three-legged cat? Or even two-legged cat on your newspaper?
Who chases after cats?
- Dogs – Be a dog on your newspaper.
Just for fun:
- Stick your tongue out and pant like a dog
- Bark like a dog!
- Walk your legs closer to your hands and become a Chihuahua, or further apart to become a Sausage dog
How many legs does the dog have? Four.
- Can you do a three-legged dog? Or even a two-legged dog on your newspaper? Can you do a five-legged dog? Or six? Or seven?
Fold the newspaper in two and do on it a:
- Butterfly - Sitting on the newspaper, bring the soles of your feet together, bending your knees out to the side. Keep your back long and hold onto your feet. Flap your wings up and down. Move slowly in the beginning and then faster and faster.
- Open winged butterfly - Spread your butterfly wings by holding onto your toes with your hands and opening your legs out to the side. It’s a challenge to balance here so if you happen to fall and roll back, that’s fine and it’s fun too!
- Frog - Squat down on your newspaper, bending your knees and resting your hands on the floor between your feet. Try to have your whole foot flat on the floor, but if it doesn’t happen, widen your stance or rest your heels on a blanket or rolled yoga mat. Spread your fingers, stretching them out on the floor to look like frog hands. Inflate your cheeks like a frog. Push the air out of your inflated cheeks with your hands, making funny noises. 'Ribbit' like a frog. Try to catch flies with your frog tongue. Jump up high like a frog. The newspaper sheets can be lotus leaves or lilies for the frogs to rest on...
- Crow - For the older kids… Begin in a squat placing your palms between your legs on the mat, shoulder-width apart. Bend your elbows to create a kind of forearm 'shelf' for your knees. Place either your knees or your shins on your forearms. Slowly lean forward until your feet lift up; you are flying!
- Owl - On the newspaper, sit on your heels with your toes tucked in. When you are ready, lift up your knees and balance on your tiptoes. Keep your wings (arms) folded on your sides or spread them far out! Turn your head from side to side, looking with your wide owl-eyes! Flap your wings up and down. Hoot, “twit twoo!”
- Flower - Sit on the newspaper with your knees bent and a bit out to the side. Bring your arms under your legs, behind your knees. Slowly lift up your feet and balance on your bottom. You can shape your fingers to resemble different flowers.
- Boat - Sit on the newspaper with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Put your hands behind your knees and lift your legs up one at a time. If you can, let go of your legs and use your hands to row; gradually getting faster and faster. Try to keep your legs as straight as possible without losing your balance. This exercise strengthens the abdominal muscles and the hip flexors. To activate those muscles even more turn your boat by bringing your hands out in front of you in line with your shoulders, twisting open one hand to the side and, after a few breaths, change and twist to the other side. Now drop one leg to the matt and hold an opposite foot to hand twist here, reaching back and switching sides. This is great for your intercostal muscles!
- More if you have time...
Fold the paper in four and do on it:
- Cacti - Stand on your newspaper on one leg and assume any form you want. Cacti come in all kinds of shapes. You can change to look like a different cactus when instructed by the teacher or when you feel like doing so.
- Aeroplane - Stand tall and slowly lean your upper body forward with your arms straight ahead. Try to lift one leg high enough so that your body is parallel to the floor. Little children can hold on to the wall for support. Make aeroplane sounds and try not to crash!
- Eagle - From standing, bend your knees a bit and cross one leg over the other. If you can, double-cross that foot behind the other ankle. Wrap your arms in the same way, shaping them into an eagle’s neck and head, placing them in front of your face. Try to slowly straighten your legs and arms a bit while they are still wrapped around; this gives a nice feeling of squeezing the old blood out of the hands and legs making space for fresh blood to flow back in. After a few deep breaths, open your eagle wings and switch sides. If it’s too hard to wrap your leg all the way around, you can do it partially and it will still be great!
Put the newspaper on your head and walk around the room without holding it and without letting it fall.
Try to do different yoga poses under the newspaper rather than on top of it. You can try:
- Fish - Sit with your legs straight in front of you and bring your hands, palms down, under your bottom with your fingers pointing toward your legs. Place the newspaper in your lap or on your chest. Lean backward so that you can rest your elbows and forearms on the mat. Lift your chest up and bring your head all the way back until the top of your head touches the mat. Try to keep most of the weight on your elbows and arms, with less weight on your head. Breathe slowly and deeply. Make a fish face or move your mouth like a fish. As a variation, you can engage your abdominals and lift your legs up on a 45° angle.
- Crab - Sit with your knees bent and feet down. Place the newspaper on your tummy. Put your hands on the floor behind you and push your hips up, like a tabletop. Keep your body completely straight, from your knees to your shoulders. Try lifting one hand up and use it as a crab’s claw, then switch hands. Do the same with the legs, and make circles with your raised foot, in both directions.
- Plough - Start sitting down with your knees to your chest. Roll all the way back bringing your legs over your head. Place the newspaper on your bum. If your feet touch the floor it is great, but they don’t have to. Support your back with your hands. To feel the stretch more, keep your legs straighter.
- Snake - Lie on your belly, hands on the floor under your shoulders. Place the newspaper on your head. Squeeze your legs together tightly to make one strong cobra tail. Push your hands into the floor and lift your head and chest up (keep your elbows a bit bent). Hiss like a snake. Stick your tongue out, flicking it up and down to smell what’s around. Look over your shoulder, turning your head to one side and then the other
Create new poses using the newspaper:
- Do the same in pairs, connecting using the newspaper
- Try in bigger groups too, and then teach your newly invented poses to the other groups
Everyone stands on their newspaper in a tree pose. The music starts playing, so everyone starts dancing; when the music stops everyone needs to stand on a newspaper (does not have to be their own ) in a tree pose. On the next round the teacher takes a couple of newspapers out and when the music stops everyone need to stand on a newspaper in tree pose – some will have to share because there are not enough newspapers for everyone. Every round the teacher takes out more newspaper sheets and everyone needs to gather in a smaller space. The game ends when everyone is standing in a tree pose on one newspaper. You must be a tree hugger to stay balanced here!
Lie on your belly in a circle facing the centre. roll the newspaper into a ball and blow it to someone across the circle. Continue until you get tired.
Fruit Tree Relaxation
Put the newspaper ball on your belly and breathe deeply watching how it comes up with your inhalation and down with the exhalation.
Now imagine that you are a seed that has been planted in the soil. Feel the soil all around you. It has started to rain, and the earth above you is getting wet and is making the soil around you very moist and cool...
The sun now starts to shine and the earth begins to dry. You can feel the energy and warmth of the sun. You would like to see the sun and experience its light. After some time you send out a tiny shoot, breaking the surface of the ground above. At the same time, you start sending roots down into the earth for support and nourishment.
You continue to grow up towards the light of the sun. And now you have bright green leaves. You drink water through your roots and absorb sunlight through your leaves. These are your food, and you produce life-giving oxygen for all the animals and people of the world to breathe.
Now you are growing large and colourful flowers and many bees come to drink your nectar, and they spread your pollen. Notice the colour of your flowers and how many bees come to see you. The bees are your friends; they will never sting a fruit tree.
You are now bearing fruit. What fruit do you wish to make? You have many beautiful fruits, and children are coming with their baskets to pick and enjoy them. The fruit makes them very happy.
Now some fruit is falling to the earth beneath and are buried in the soil. You are a seed once more, hidden within the fruit. A whole life cycle is beginning again…
After the relaxation, you can have a short discussion with the children about how everything in nature is constantly recycled and changes form like from the seed to the tree and the fruit in the relaxation, and how maybe we should not buy things that cannot decompose and become a part of this cycle again such as plastic products and packaging.
Recommended playlists for the class:
1. Yoga Spin the Bottle and Catchy Names:
2. You are the Newspaper:
3. Yoga with a Newspaper Sheet:
4. Musical Newspapers:
5. Newspaper Breath and Fruit Tree Relaxation:
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