Sustainable Missoula: Changing the culture of waste, one fifth-grader at a time

By Jeremy Drake, Community Engagement Manager at Home ReSource.
Originally published in Missoula Current, March 8, 2019.

The black-and-white photo hung on the wall outside the kindergarten classroom. In it, my son proudly held a handwritten sign that read “socr plar.” It’s an age-old question for kids, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

At Home ReSource, as a Community Sustainability Center, we’re asking the fifth-graders in ZWAP!, our Zero Waste Ambassadors Program, what kind of world they want to grow up in. And we’re asking them to draw it. Equipped with pages of outdated, donated dot-matrix copier paper and yogurt tubs filled with colored pencils, a new generation of sustainability leaders is illustrating their future world.

Despite differences across schools, life experiences, and economic and social factors, a cohesive vision is emerging: a healthy environment with lots of trees, clean rivers and oceans, happy fish, zero waste picnics, reusable shopping bags and water bottles, food scraps composting, source-separated recycling (bottles separate from cans separate from paper), and the occasional solar-powered rocketship. It’s a world with no pollution, no plastic bags and no plastic straws, described in their own words and expressed predominantly in blue and green hues. In this world, according to a simple, yet sublime black-and-white bar graph, the amount of “trash” declines as “hope” increases…Read the entire article at missoulacurrent.com.

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