Monday, November 15, 2021

The Hair Shirt / Plastic Mat School of Environmentalism

The kids' school, in addition to the standard curriculum, which is demanding in and of itself, requires them to take extra enrichment classes as they do their studies.

Some are excellent - for example a trip to Alabama to learn about segregation and the civil rights movement which Abby enjoyed, and learned a lot while seeing actual historic places and talking to people who were there. 

An enrichment on photography was pretty good, as was a class on learning how to make reasoned arguments.

Some of these enrichments though are not so good.

The current enrichment they both signed up for was on the environment.  It was available to fit their schedules, they needed an enrichment this term, and so they signed up.

So their required assignment for the enrichment was for each of them to create a sleeping mat to be donated to the homeless.

The environmental catch - it had to be made by them via crochet with them using plastic bags to create the mat following instructions.  Apparently this is to teach the kids to reuse evil environmentally-unfriendly plastic bags in new ways rather than as actual useful and reusable bags.

Well, it's in fact actually more an example of environmental stupidity than anything else.

To make the mats, you first have to cut plastic bags into strips and then crochet them into ropes and then into the mat design.

It does come out ok, eventually, but there's a catch.

We ran out of plastic bags to use at home.  Our bag of bags rapidly became empty. We also need those bags as Piper accident waste bags.   This caused issues.  Every bag we had and more got turned into crochet pieces.

It also makes the mats not look particularly good with the many varieties of plastic shopping bags being used.

We then started giving them new kitchen garbage bags to use for the project which are a lot easier to work with than the thin plastic shopping bags.  The second mat was made with 100% new kitchen garbage bags.

 Certainly looks nicer and the thicker material actually makes it kinda comfy.

Add to this material issue is the fact that it takes hours and hours and hours and hours for kids to crochet a 6-foot-long sleeping mat.  Hours they could be using studying or doing other useful rather than busy-work. It's literally taken them  months and lots of hours of time to get this done.

In the simplest terms this enrichment class is more about environmentalists' stupidity, feel-good-ism, and wasting time and resources while not effectively solving a problem, than it is about environmentalism. 

Not what they were trying to teach, but I sure hope the kids picked up on it.

In short, for the amount of time and materials the kids put in, mats could instead be purchased from Amazon, in a quantity sufficient enough for an entire Platoon to sleep on, providing nice, high-quality, sleeping mats for 50 homeless people rather than two ersatz ones.  Likely even more could be bought at a discount in a bulk purchase.

There's a lesson to be learned here, but it's certainly not the one the environmental enrichment class was trying to teach.


juvat said...

Well, I'm glad Abby did learn the right lesson, not the "Kumbaya" one. One would also hope that the intent of the course was to teach that many ideas that are proposed to solve a problem...Don't.

That's just me...being optimistic...and likely wrong.

Chuck Pergiel said...

Could the teacher be a subversive? I suppose some kids might enjoy this kind of project, but I suspect more learn the anti-lesson.

drjim said...

Sounds like a lesson in how NOT to solve a "problem"....

Old NFO said...

Concur with drjim. Or they could have just been out to clean you out of garbage bags...

MrGarabaldi said...

Hey Aaron;

Abby being your Daughter will get the proper lesson out of this, vapid exercise in navel gazing, but a lot of kids will get the wrong lesson and that is the intent, hook them with "Feelgood environmentalism" That is where you see so many *Occupy kids with Iphones*, LOL All about the fluff and no substance. Interesting writeup though....

Pigpen51 said...

My grandmother did this same thing, only using her old bread wrappers. She made throw rugs out of them. But I do hope that the lesson was learned about the value of time.
I used to work on my own vehicles. Until I figured out that by working one hour of overtime, I could pay the mechanic to fix whatever, and I would come out 3 hours ahead, with the car fixed correctly, and the mechanic would stand behind his work.
I am retired due to chronic migraines, and a back that I broke in my youth. So now I am on a fixed income. Yet as a Christian, I want to donate to worthy causes. So instead of feeling bad when I cannot send a check for 100$, I send 10$, knowing that if enough people like me do the same, it will add up, and help out whatever the cause is. Usually, I will just make certain that I give an extra large tip to a waitress or waiter, if we go to a restaurant, because my parents owned a restaurant for 30 plus years, and I know how hard they work, and how often some people tip very little, or not at all.
And if approached by a homeless person I do tend to hand them a buck or two, without trying to ignore them. Some people will say that I am just encouraging their drug or alcohol habit. I figure that I am responsible for what I do with my money, not for what a homeless person does with their money. That might be naive, but I always hope that I make it easier for them to at least buy a sandwich for the day.