Conservation

Thrive Childcare and Education is committed to being kind to, and protecting, our planet, a commitment which is cascaded throughout our settings.

Each of our nurseries will have a named conservation champion.

The Importance of Conservation

Planet earth is the only home we have. It provides us with food, water, spaces to play and essential resources to help us survive. BUT our planet is a living entity and needs to be cared for just like any other living being.

At Thrive we are passionate about looking after our planet in order that the children we care for, and future generations, can still experience the awe and wonder of the natural world we live in. As such we have created our own initiative called ‘Conservation Champions’.

Here are some facts to help outline the importance of conservation.

Climate Change

Over the last century, the human race has had a catastrophic impact on the well-being of the planet resulting in changes in the climate that must be tackled urgently.

Climate change (or global warming) is the process of our planet heating up. Scientists estimate that since the mid-nineteenth century, human activity has caused the Earth to warm by approximately 1°C. While that might not sound like much, it means big things for people and wildlife around the Globe. It is estimated that if the global temperature rises by more than 1.5°C, the World will see irreversible changes. Stopping the climate problem here and now is our last chance.

We are currently living through a mass extinction which is characterised by a widespread decrease in biodiversity on Earth. Experts estimate that every day as many as 150 species are becoming extinct due to human activity.

Unfortunately, rising temperatures do not mean that we will get nicer weather – if only! The changing climate will make our weather more extreme and unpredictable. As temperatures rise, some areas will get wetter and lots of animals (and humans) could find they are not able to adapt to their changing climate.

This is often referred to as the ‘greenhouse effect’.

Conservation Champions

Conservation Champions is an initiative that allows our ethos of being kinder to our planet to be cascaded throughout our settings and ensuring we take action, making small changes every day.

Conservation Champions is a ‘whole team’ approach that requires our people, at all levels, to commit to doing their part to creating a more sustainable approach to early years provision, ensuring that the children we care for now have access to healthy and natural environments as adults.

In order to ensure the Conservation Champions message becomes a part of our setting’s everyday practice, each of our nurseries will have a named Conservation Champion Leader.

What is the Greenhouse Effect?

The ‘greenhouse effect’ is the warming that happens when certain gases in Earth’s atmosphere trap heat. These gases let in light but keep heat from escaping, like the glass walls of a greenhouse, hence the name.

Extracting too many natural resources, factory farming and overfishing, and the production of plastic have contributed to this alarming rise in greenhouse gases.

Carbon dioxide is contributing to this as we are currently producing too much for the Earth to handle. At the same time, we are destroying the one thing that can help naturally reduce carbon dioxide levels… trees!

Did you know?

By 2050, with a projected increase global population of 9.6 billion, we would need the equivalent of almost 3 planets’ worth of resources to sustain our way of living if our current consumption and production patterns remain the same.

Deforestation

Trees help fight climate change. As they grow, they help stop climate change by removing carbon dioxide from the air, storing carbon in the tress and soil, and releasing oxygen into the atmosphere.

Trees provide many benefits to us every day. Unfortunately, between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometres of forest, according to the World Bank – an area larger than South Africa. Since humans started cutting down forests, 46% of trees have been felled, according to a 2015 study in the journal, Nature.

About 17% of the Amazon rainforest has been destroyed over the past 50 years, and losses recently have been on the rise. The number one cause of deforestation is animal agriculture, with rainforests and woodlands being removed to make spaces for pastures for livestock.

According to Nasa, if we continue at this current rate of destruction, the World’s rainforests will be gone by 2100.

But we love trees!

Looking After Our Natural World

Nature will play a critical role in our actions by providing a two-for-one solution to reduce the impacts of rapid climate change.

The places we protect and restore both store carbon and help people and nature adapt to our changing climate.

Nature conservation means protecting our environment and the wildlife that live in it. Ways we can do this are:

  • Rewilding areas of our outdoor space to provide habitats for insects, animals and birds.
  • Creating bug hotels and treating any bugs we find with great care.
  • Planting a variety of safe plants and flowers that not only provide wonderful, sensory experiences for children, but attract a fascinating variety of wildlife.
  • Watering plants and flowers that need help when it is very hot.
  • Picking up litter to avoid animals eating it or being hurt by it.
  • Hanging bird feeders in the garden.

Growing Fruits & Vegetables

Teaching children where fruits and vegetables come from will give them a respect for how amazing the Earth and nature is which could lead to a positive interest in healthy eating.

Ensuring they are involved in the process will give them essential skills that will last a lifetime. Ways we can do this are:

  • Planting seeds in small pots and nurturing them as they grow into seedlings before repotting them or planting them outdoors.
  • Allowing children to water plants every day.
  • Encouraging children to observe the changes as plants grow.
  • Allowing children to eat produce safely and/or take home to share with their families.
  • Teaching children about the seasons and the different produce that grows at different times of the year.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Saving the Earth’s resources such as water, energy and food is vital to sustainability. We can do this by reducing, reusing and recycling where we can.

Reduce

We can reduce the amount of non-recyclable materials we buy.

Reuse

We can reuse items that are still safe to use that we may otherwise have thrown away. This may require something to be fixed or to be repurposed.

Recycle

We can ensure that materials which can be recycled are done so at an appropriate recycling point.

Plastic Waste

Whilst it is impossible to know exact figures, it estimated that enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the Earth four times.

This plastic will not decompose in the way that other materials do, in fact, a plastic bottle will take well over 450 years to decompose! With this in mind, plastic that we throw away and do not recycle will end up in the earth or the ocean, neither of which is sustainable as the planet has finite space and resources.

Apart from the fishing industry, which is estimated to kill as many as 2 trillion sea animals per year, pollution including plastic is a major cause of fish deaths.

Some ways that we can reduce, reuse and recycle are:

  • Collecting and utilising loose parts for play wherever possible
  • Ensuring we turn lights off when they are not needed.
  • Ensuring we don’t leave taps running unnecessarily.
  • Ensuring that children are given appropriate portions of food to reduce unnecessary food waste.
  • Not using food for play unless absolutely necessary.
  • Buying locally wherever possible to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • Not wasting paper – for example, reusing scrap paper, not overusing hand towels.
  • Utilising rainwater to water plants.
  • Thinking twice about buying non-recyclable products such as water bottles, items with unnecessary packaging, and plastic toys.
  • Having a clothes swap drop-off point for parents to share clothes children have grown out of.
  • Having a book swap drop-off point for both staff and parents to share books that they have read.

By teaching children to do all of the above, we are instilling in them life lessons that will ensure they grow up to become environmentally conscious citizens.

The Ocean

71% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water. We can’t live without the ocean: it produces more oxygen than the Amazon rainforest and stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.

Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean each year. These plastics not only cause direct harm to marine life but they also reduce to micro-plastics which enter our food system and cause harm to us too.

The ocean is thought to be home to over 700,000 different species. However, the ocean is in grave danger. Every day, as well as thousands of tonnes of plastic waste entering the ocean, overfishing is causing an imbalance potentially resulting in irreparable damage to the ecosystem.

How We Can Make a Difference?

The good news is that we do have time to instigate change and make a difference if we act now. In nurseries, we are well placed to influence others and start to create some good habits.

Below are just some of the actions that we are committing to take as part of the Conservation Champion Initiative:

Eco-Schools

The Eco-Schools Green Flag is an internationally recognised award for excellence in environmental action and learning.

You can work up to your first Eco-Schools Green Flag by achieving Bronze and Silver awards which are self-accredited stepping stones along the way.

Working towards the Eco-Schools awards is a great introduction to being responsible citizens and making small, daily changes in our settings that can have a significant impact. We hope that achieving the Eco-Schools awards gives our settings a structure to work from and ultimately acknowledgement that we are on the right track. However, the Eco-Schools awards is only one aspect of what we would like to achieve in being a conscientious business committed to conservation and being an inspiration to children, families and the wider community.

Raising Awareness of Conservation

Sharing information with peers and families can be really helpful in raising awareness of conservation. In nursery, we can do this by:

  • Making posters with the children and putting them up around the setting
  • Sharing leaflets with facts about conservation with parents
  • Creating drop-off points for recycling
  • Talk to children at an appropriate level about looking after the Earth through stories, songs and discussions
  • Speaking to community groups about local recycling opportunities

The Role of the Conservation Champion

Each of our settings will have a Conservation Champion. This person will be passionate about conservation and will actively seek to promote conservation-related activities in their setting.

The Conservation champion will:

Ambassador

Be a passionate ambassador for conservation

Training

Attend relevant training and network meetings as required

Conservation Commitment

Ensure the setting works through the Conservation Commitment

Communication

Cascade information to the team about conservation and related matters

Taking Action

Keep up to date with current information about conservation and ideas for taking action

Best Practices

Lead best practice daily, developing inspiring conservation activities for children and staff

Clothing

Ensure appropriate clothing and equipment is available for children when carrying our conservation activities

Support

Seek support from the nursery manager in embedding good practice; developing knowledge, understanding and attitudes of the staff team

Outdoors

Conserve the outdoor space to maximize learning opportunities and utilise community spaces as appropriate

Conservation Culture Checklist

Conservation Champion

The setting Manager and Conservation Champion are passionate about conservation and understand the importance of embedding small changes that make a big difference

Awareness

The whole team have an awareness of conservation issues and the ways they can make a difference every day

Recycling Points

Conservation station recycling points are visible in nursery

Creative Resource

Loose parts are collected and are readily available as resources in the playrooms – link to the loose pates page

Display

A Conservation Champion display is available to share information with parents, staff and visitors.

Additional Resources

Child appropriate books that include information about conservation, gardening and wildlife issues are available for children

Tools

Tools and equipment necessary to maintain conservation champions are readily available such as: litter pickers, watering cans, gardening gloves, gardening tools

Reflection

A Conservation Champion floor book is available that includes reflection, evidence and depicts the journey the nursery is on