Students in the fourth year of Primary Education at the Francesc de Borja Moll school in Palma de Mallorca have a mission each year: they must draw up a plan to reduce waste and electricity spending in their homes: “Based on what They have learned first in class about responsible consumption, energy production or sustainability, the students investigate together with their families how they can improve these aspects at home ”, explains Rubén Alarcón, a teacher at this school. A project that turns the little ones into the eco-counselors of their families.
Alarcón gives some examples of the recipes of the students: “Concentrate multiple devices on a power strip and turn it off when not in use; check the energy efficiency of household appliances and assess whether you can buy a better category; talk with colleagues who live nearby to go to and from school together and thus not use several cars… ”. In this way, the kids manage to save a few euros for their families while they acquire sustainable habits so that, when they are adults, they make decisions at home.
Children have become influencers from their families, as revealed by the report The Little Big Book , from the consulting firm specializing in marketing for children The Modern Kids & Family. Its general director, Miguel González, explains that children are a way to raise awareness among adults. “They influence the consumption decisions made by their parents and can be able to modify habits at home,” says González.
The commitment to sustainability is not yet a priority for households, according to the report global Who cares, who does , prepared by the consulting firm Kantar. The family nuclei in which actions are carried out to reduce the environmental footprint are still a minority. However, children and adolescents can reverse this situation now by helping to raise awareness among their elders and, in the future, by becoming responsible adults. This is demonstrated by this report, in which a progressive growth is projected in the next decade of homes that are aware of the environment and active in sustainable habits.
“Environmental awareness, or towards any cause, it begins in childhood, it is consolidated in adolescence and later, it is put into practice in adulthood ”, explains González. And he adds: “That is why environmental education at an early age is essential.”
A sparse school curriculum in environmental education
Schools play a fundamental role in this work, as Laura Benítez, coordinator of Environmental Education for the NGO SEO / BirdLife, explains. However, currently the integration of this subject into the primary education curriculum is scarce in Spain, according to the SEO report Review of content on climate change in the school curriculum / BirdLife. “We refer in the title to climate change, but the study also looks at other environmental concepts such as sustainability, the use of resources or the protection and conservation of nature”, clarifies Benítez.
The report reveals that only 20% of the entire school curriculum addresses issues related to climate change, although The results are disparate between the 17 autonomous communities, Ceuta and Melilla. In the Basque Country and Andalusia, the presence of this environmental knowledge far exceeds the national average, with a 65 , 2% and a 56%, respectively; while in the Community of Madrid this percentage stands at 5.3%.
At the Nuestra Señora de Begoña de Barakaldo school (Bizkaia), the teaching team does not find it difficult to integrate environmental education in the different subjects, in other extracurricular activities or in the school environment, as explained by one of her teachers, Sara Calvo. “For years we have had an ecological garden within the school, we have adapted the energy resources of the center with led bulbs and tap aerators to reduce water waste; We also carry out environmental awareness activities in the classroom and on the playground; and we organize conferences in which families participate ”, says Calvo, who assures that this is due to“ the philosophy of the center, developed after many work ”.
“All the training that is currently offered for teachers revolves around technology and digitization, but nothing about environmental education,” says Alarcón
However, this is not usually the general trend in Spanish educational centers “because no type of training in environmental matters is given to teachers, so that everything is left to the will of the teacher and his sensitivity to the subject to work on it or not ”, denounces Benítez. The professor at the Francesc de Borja Moll school also regrets this situation: “All the training currently offered for teachers revolves around technology and digitization, but nothing on environmental education,” says Alarcón.
From SEO / BirdLife they hope that the new LOMLOE Education Law, approved in December 2020, lays the foundations for a improvement of the integration of environmental education in the school curriculum. “At the moment it contemplates it, but it has not been specified how it will be done,” says Benítez, who adds: “It should be developed as a specific subject and, of course, train teachers and reinforce knowledge with the presence of external educators.”
The responsibility of the private company
As the SEO / BirdLife expert points out, “the environmental awareness of children It is not only a task of the educational community, public administrations and families, but of the whole of society ”. In this regard, private entities can also collaborate. An example of how companies can do this is by sharing their knowledge. The Leroy Merlin company launched the Hazlo Verde project six years ago, which seeks to promote environmental education in the classrooms through workshops, taught by company volunteers, and an annual contest in which different schools develop projects to work on fundamental issues framed in the UN Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.
Each edition of this The project revolves around an environmental aspect, as explained by María Morales, Leroy Merlin’s Responsible Business specialist and Hazlo Verde coordinator. For the course 2021-2022 will focus on the circular economy, “a fundamental sustainability model today that must be incorporated into the pedagogical curriculum.”
“Children are very aware of aspects such as recycling, but perhaps not so much with the repair or reuse of materials, which are essential for the sustainable management of resources ”, Morales points out. “The little ones have a much more open mind than adults and are more creative, understanding the circular economy and reinventing objects is easier for them.”
The Hazlo Verde website proposes different didactic activities for perform in the classroom. In addition, volunteers from the corporation develop workshops online and in educational centers to show students how to reuse waste and turn it into new useful objects for day-to-day life.
Both the Francesc de Borja Moll school and The Nuestra Señora de Begoña have participated in several editions of the Hazlo Verde contest that, “in addition to raising awareness among students and motivating them to carry out different activities”, as Rubén Alarcón and Sara Calvo say, marks a path of work in the environmental area of schools.
Miguel González says that the little ones shape the world in which they live based on what they hear and what they see “at home, at school, on the street, in the television… That is why it is so important to address the environmental situation, to talk about it ”, adds the director of The Modern Kids & Agency, an agency that collaborates with Leroy Merlin in the development of the Hazlo Verde program.
In fact, both González and the re Leroy Merlin sponsors agree that “children show much greater empathy for everything around them than adults. Awakening in them that sensitivity towards nature is simple, you just have to offer them the information in an attractive way; the methodology varies depending on age, but the objective is the same: that they receive correct training that allows them to assume their responsibility as citizens in the future. ”
- Drafting: Marta Villena
- Development: Rodolfo Mata
- Editorial coordination:
- Design coordination: Adolfo Domenech
Illustration and Design: María José Durán