Cassandra Gustavsson 17: Involving children in sustainable development

september 28, 2018, 12:45 e m

On the second day of WEEC 2015, 30th of June, the main topic of three oral presentations was to involve children in for example recycling. Creative and entertaining ways for the children to get involved in sustainable development were presented.

The first speaker was Marie Falk, who works for Göteborgs stad trygg, vacker stad Gothenburg, Sweden. Her talk was about a Swedish tradition that involves children at an early age to participate and gain knowledge about sustainability – The Spring Cleanup. This is an old tradition with base on the curriculum where children at schools in Gothenburg pick up trash. This is an event that happens every year at schools with children ages 1 to 16. The idea with this is for the children to gain understanding about sustainability by experience, exploring and reflecting when they pick up the trash. It is an attitude-changing project. Before 2007 it was mostly about picking up trash, but not anymore. Falk said that picking up trash is important but not the most important. The importance of doing it is for the children to reflect and understand why they do it. In this year’s spring cleanup, 99% of the children in Gothenburg’s public preschools participated.

Not only does Göteborg trygg och vacker stad work with the spring cleanup but also with voluntary competitions for schools. These competitions invite the children to make artistic things such as artwork, songs, robots, poems, etc., by using recycled material. The thought of these competitions is to focus on what the children have learned during their productions.

Niko Riepponen, a Finish designer from Espoo, presented another creative idea that was produced in Finland by children. The original speaker who was supposed to present did not show up therefore Riepponen took the place and made a short, but entertaining talk. Riepponen came up with a solution to vandalism at trashcans, a problem in Espoo, Finland. The solution was to let children create art designs on stickers that then were applied onto trashcans. This invited the children to participate in something that may stop vandalism and as well make people throw their trash into the trashcans.

Eva Ärlemalm-Hagsér, Mälardalen University, School of education, culture and communication, and Bodil Sundberg, Västerås Örebro University, School of Science and Technology, Sweden, had made a research that they presented during their talk. The main purpose of their research was to explore Swedish preschool staffs’ understanding of sustainability. What they found was that there are difficulties dealing with inter-connectedness between ecological, social and economic sustainability. Swedish preschools need to start working with social and economical issues together with nature. Marie Falk commented that she thinks Swedish people think only about nature when they hear the Swedish word for sustainability (hållbar), when it in fact includes much more.

Personally I think that creative ideas like the ones Falk and Riepponen presented are great ways to get children involved in an educational yet entertaining way about sustainability. To let them produce their own things by recycled material while at the same time reflect about it can be a good way of learning. Therefore I think more ideas like these should be presented at schools around the world and make the children involved.

Cassandra Gustavsson (17)
NTI Mediegymnasiet Göteborg
1 July 2015
YRE student from Sweden