Friday, June 22, 2012

Destination Denmark!: Day 5

Check out STEM Friday for more math and science links.

An often used (perhaps too much) phrase in education circles is "the a-ha moment" where a person is enlightened by a particular piece of information. Our trip to the Vestforbraending Recycling and Waste Treatment Plant in Glostrup definitely created one of these moments for me. Per Brix was our host at the Waste Lab which is a teaching facility for middle and high school students and teachers. He explained how the resources needed to create a product are a "hidden flow" that is not realized by consumers. When I have talked to children about the need for recycling, the emphasis was on saving space in our landfills. It did not occur to me to think about the resources that would go into making a new product as opposed to something that has been recycled.

The map above shows the locations of resources needed to create a backpack. This is the "hidden flow" in that these resources have to be mined or procured in other ways and that puts a stress on the environment as well as political stress as countries try to acquire these resources from other countries. If we take care to recycle instead of constantly needing to have new products, that will lessen the stress on the environment and  create a healthier planet. Look at the number in yellow and think about the amount of fuel that was used to acquire these resources. You need resources to get the resources and I don't think I have ever really thought about it that way. Realizing and teaching others about the "hidden flow" will perhaps change our consumerism so that less stress is put on economic, environmental, and political systems. 

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