Answers for young environmentalists

Here’s a great book for young learners quarantined at home right now, especially as we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day next week!

How does plastic get into the ocean? Where does waste go after you flush the toilet? How is paper recycled? If you have little people in your life, then you know that children are forever asking how and why things are the way they are. You also know that an internet search does not always provide answers in a format that is entertaining and understandable to a 6-9 year-old. However, that is exactly what Jess French does with her book, What a Waste (DK Publishing, 72 pages).

While “waste” is in the title and dealing with it is the primary focus, this book touches upon all aspects of our impact on the environment: from pollution and energy use to resource depletion, habitat loss, and species extinction. There is even a section on trash in the earth’s orbit.

For each environmental topic, the author describes the current situation and the systems we have put in place to deal with that situation. She also offers the reader examples of actions they can take to help improve the environment and protect the planet. Furthermore, the book offers concrete ways a young person can become a leader and influencer within their home, school, and community.

While Ms. French is both a veterinarian and an author, she is best known as the presenter of a British television program called Minibeast Adventure with Jess, where she leads small children on encounters with small creatures. “My strongest and best memories are of going to the woods at the weekend,” says French, “Me and my dad…we’d rip up old logs, lift up stones, dig up soil, and we always used to find loads of different cool stuff…” Her childlike enthusiasm and curiosity transfer to this project, making What a Waste the perfect book for early elementary students who want to know the “how and why” of the environment.

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