This week is promoted by the European Commission to coincide with United Nations Environment Day on June 5. Its theme is "Changing our behaviour: informed choices"
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It likes a warm, sheltered spot in the garden. It needs to be kept damp. It helps to cover it with an old carpet. It can be fed grass cuttings, used tea bags, left-over vegetables, paper (without coloured ink) and rotting fruit. It can be kept in control by building a mesh cage around it.
Kitchen and garden waste is made up of organic matter. Kept warm and damp, it will rot and become compost. Otherwise, it has to be put in bins, collected, taken to tips and burned or dumped in landfill sites. A garden compost heap provides excellent fertilizer and saves you buying compost.
Recycling paper is another way of helping the environment. Every year households in Britain throw away 6.3 million tonnes of paper. If the world doubled the amount of paper it recycles, it would save eight million hectares of forest from destruction. At home, we can save money and water by having a shower instead of a bath, or by putting a brick (tied inside a plastic bag) in the toilet cistern. There will still be enough water when you flush.
It is not just at home that we waste resources. Schools waste millions of pounds of resources. One school in Belfast earned money by recycling 1,000 drink cans. A school near Manchester turned its grubby grounds into a nature reserve. Everyone can do something - using both sides of a piece of paper, turning off a light when you leave a room, and not leaving the television on standby all help the environment.
Follow-up = l A number of tips for staying green are at http:news.bbc.co.ukcbbcnewshiworldnewsid_22340002234570.stm
* The Young People's Trust for the Environment is a charity that works to implement environmental education programmes for young people. Its website offers a wide range of fact sheets and a number of action sheets providing simple instructions for compost and nesting-box-making, and for making your own recycled paper. Contact YPTENC, 8 Leapale Road, Guildford, Surrey, GU1 4JX Tel: 01483 539600 www.yptenc.org.uk
* Practical "green" projects are also promoted by the international Eco Schools body www.eco-schools.org