Outline script for assembly leaders
If you have younger brothers and sisters, you may remember when they wore nappies. They probably wore disposable ones, as 95 per cent of parents choose to buy these rather than using cotton, washable ones.
It's not a lot of fun washing used nappies but an average child is likely to use 5,850 disposable nappies in his or her life. Disposable nappies result in thousands of tonnes of waste annually, most of which is quickly filling up landfill sites. So we've just had "Real Nappy Week" (ending June 26) to encourage parents to use (and reuse) washable nappies. But one study conducted by the Environment Agency said that the amount of water and energy used to wash and dry them caused just as much environmental damage as getting rid of disposable ones.
There is less argument about recycling other things. One third of our rubbish is paper and card. Each year, this would fill more than 100,000 double-decker buses. It could be recycled. Instead, we cut down 17 trees to make each tonne of new paper.
Each average family throws away 500 glass bottles and jars each year.
Recycling old bottles can cut pollution by up to 20 per cent and reduce the demand for water by half.
Aluminium cans are even more valuable. Making them from old ones uses only 1Z20th of the energy needed to make them from raw materials.
If we get used to recycling rubbish, fewer new materials need to be quarried or mined. Less damage is caused to the environment and wildlife habitats. There will be fewer health problems - and we are less likely to run out of our natural resources.
* Debate whether it is better to use cotton or disposable nappies. Real Nappy Week is promoted by the Women's Environmental Network Tel: 020 7481 9004 www.wen.org.uk
* The Big Recycle www.thebigrecycle.com l A special site for schools and teachers offering curriculum-related activities and worksheets is at www.recyclezone.org.uk
* Suggestions for using aluminium cans in teaching www.thinkcans.comedu_home.htm
* See p29 for details of a new recycling centre in Hull made from reclaimed materials