Environmental Dissidence

recycling box
My son’s school has been emphasizing the importance of the environment. He insists on bringing his sandwich in a reusable container and refuses a recycled bread bag. And a few months ago the school hosted an event on environmental topics, including making crafts with recycled items and a discussion of water in Judaism. Cardboard boxes, prepared by the municipality, were provided for each household to collect old paper. The box reads: “You recycled? You helped! In Petach Tikva we take responsibility for the environment.” Petach Tikva, refreshingly, is first in the country for percentage of trash recycled.

Yet the school exhibits some cognitive dissonance when it comes to the environment. I’ve already written about the ridiculous amount of school supplies and multicolored folders required for each child. After the environmental event kids were asked to bring in yet another plastic folder–this time green, along with writing paper and nylonim (clear plastic page covers)–for a unit about the environment. I recently noticed the unused folder in my son’s backpack. He thinks the teacher forgot about it.


  1. sylvia_rachel says

    I experienced a similar cognitive dissonance during a Tu B’Shevat event at my daughter’s Sunday school when we were asked to write down things we could do over the next year to help the environment. On leaves and fruits cut out of (not reused or recycled) construction paper. Which we were then asked to place on a tree (also cut out of probably-not-reused-or-recycled paper) taped to the wall…

  2. mominisrael says

    Oh well. . .

  3. Ariella Brown says

    While they never claimed to be concerned about the environment, I also get annoyed with the amount of waste produced by the school or their required supplies. For example, my second grader’s teacher requires a whole compositon notebook just to write homework in. Remember memo pads? Well, that’s not good enough. We have to waste a whole notebook and write only 2 lines using only one side of the paper. A great lesson in conserving resources, don’t you think. And teachers object to recycling notebooks that still have 80% of their full 100 sheets untouched. They also try to make it impossible by requiring specific colors, or even going out and buying all the supplies they want in the colors they want and then billing the parents for these items.

  4. Sort of related: when my son was in nursery school, one of the environmentally-conscious moms organized a planting hour on a Sunday morning at the local Y (now gone due to vicious local politics and poor financial management). The nursery school director brought Dunkin Donuts and juice, as though the little kids couldn’t survive for one hour without eating some junk food.

  5. Whenever I make too many photocopies , I try to keep the sheets and hand them over to the students for rough paper wishfully thinking some of them will become environment-conscious.

  6. Ariella: I think things will start to change soon.
    Leora: Definitely related. Ugh.
    I-D: You never know, something might sink in.


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