Author: Liz Brownlee
What is Sustainable?
A tree is sustainable. We need to plant three BILLION by 2050 in the UK alone to combat Climate Crisis. Almost every area will have people who can help you plant trees, a tree for you to plant and an area to plant it in – but planting is only the first step. Trees have to be nurtured like any other plant, and watered and fed and checked on until the are old enough to survive alone. Trees are wonderful things – so here’s a poem about one!
A small tree seed falls in the soil
bursts open, swells, a shoot uncoils
its journey to the sky begun
a leaf unfurls, turns in the sun
to gratify its appetite
it eats earth’s food, drinks rain and light
shapes skin of bark, and wood as bone,
green clothes of leaves, and when it’s grown
then it gives back; it starts to bear
nut, blossom, fruit, its breath cleans air
its branches are a music hall
and home for souls that creep and crawl
a swing for squirrel acrobats
a perch for birds, a roost for bats
its life, green loveliness from birth
its death gifts goodness back to earth
© Liz Brownlee
See if you can find a way to plant a tree, or several trees. The Woodland Trust is a good place to start asking.
Beautiful tree image by Marvin Foushee on Flikr, by CC license.
Earthtalk by Shauna Darling Robertson
Thank you to Shauna, who has sent a fabulous Climate Change Poem:
The sea has a story to tell us,
……….if only we’d wait on the beach
and I wish we’d just sit here and listen
……….to all that the wind has to teach
and the earth will share mountains of wisdom
……….as soon as we grasp more than speech.
The trees gently whisper their secrets
………and offer up knowledge for free
and the birds chatter openly to us:
whatever seems locked, there’s a key.
The whole world, it talks to us daily –
………can’t anyone hear it but me?
© Shauna Darling Robertson
Welcome to Be the Change, Sustainability for Kids!
In 2015, the United Nations countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world.
Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens have written a young people’s book, Be the Change, to explore these goals and the positive steps being taken to look after each other and our environment. This site will also be the place to find other kids’ books, poems, tips and fun to help you start being the change! Thank you to Julian Mosedale for the fab artwork!
Petition to get Washing Machines Fitted with Microplastic Filters
Fleece is everywhere. We all wear it, even my dog wears one. And has blankets made of it.
BUT studies have shown that each time one fleece is washed 700,000 fibres made of microplastic are shed into the water. Fish (and whales and dolphins and other sea creatures) eat them, mistaking them for food and we eat the fish – so end up eating plastic. Any plastic clothing (nylon, acrylic, polyester etc.) sheds plastic into the water in each wash. One way to help stop this is to only buy clothes made of natural fibres, which will eventually decompose, wool jumpers for instance. But natural fibres can be more expensive, and involve unfair labour practises.
This is a petition to the Gvt. in the UK to ask for filters to be fitted in washing machines. Sign it if you live in the UK and agree! Petition to Get filters fitted in washing machines.
Another way to help is to put all fleeces into a bag before washing.
Trevor Parsons Performs his Poem ‘Tigers’
Lovely sustainability poem from Trevor Parsons we filmed a few years ago.
Rhino Poem for World Poetry Day
Rhinoceros means ‘nose horn’, and these massive animals are one of the largest species in the world. There are only around 29,000 rhinos left in the wild, compared to 500,000 at the beginning of the 20th century. Some species are critically endangered. They have no natural enemies but us – the main threat to them is illegal hunting. Their horns are worth a lot of money, weight for weight more than gold, because they can be sold at a very high price to make ‘medicine’, which will never work. Rhino horn is made of a substance similar to finger nails.
Here is my rhino poem:
Who am I,
in the dust
built like stone
from elephant grass,
and cooled by mud?
Who am I,
down my chin,
shot through my
Who am I,
face hacked and sawn?
Who am I,
who am I,
without my horn?
© Liz Brownlee
Image by Todd on Flikr by CC license.
Blooms Bring Bees and Butterflies to your Garden!
Start of Spring day and time to talk about bees and butterflies! Many of Britain’s bees, including rare wild bees, and also butterflies are becoming fewer, because of intensive farming and building on flowery meadows where they feed. Bees are vital because they fertilise all our food crops, but they are also affected by air pollution, pesticides, herbicides, and parasites such as the verroa mite.
But you can help by planting a wildflower patch in your garden, and leaving dandelions in the spring as they are an important food source for the first bumble bees.
Wildflowers help the rarer bees in trouble as they tend to prefer our native flower species.
However any flowering plants which have pollen-rich flowers will help the bees in your garden, especially if you take the trouble to:
Choose different flower shapes and flowering periods from early spring to late autumn, as different bumblebees have different length tongues – long-tongued bumbles love honeysuckles and foxgloves. It is wonderful to see a quivering foxglove bursting with bumble.
Try not to get plants which have many petals or ‘double’ flowers as bees and butterflies find them difficult to get pollen from – some even have no pollen or nectar.
Ask you neighbours if they have any cuttings of good bee and butterfly attracting plants, and try collecting seeds to share from your own.
Ask at your nearest garden centre for bee and butterfly-friendly plants!
And if you don’t live in the UK but do live in Ohio, US, Jefferson County Pollinator Action Group and Liz Brownlee (yes, same name as me!) from the Oak Heritage conservancy are hosting a plant sale this spring, and residents from around southeast Indiana are invited to participate.
Lastly, never, ever use herbicides or insecticides. Insects like greenfly can be removed in all sorts of plant and bee friendly ways, including soapy water.
This is a poem from Reaching the Stars, Poems About Extraordinary Women and Girls (by me, Jan Dean and Michaela Morgan), about Rachel Carson, who was born in 1907 in America. She foresaw the harm that chemical insecticides would cause, and the books she wrote helped get DDT, a very harmful pesticide, banned. Her writing also sparked the beginnings of the environmental movements.
For the Beauty of the Earth
She wrote with love
of all creation,
the need for nature
and showed that
nature is a ring,
relying on every
where the bee is heard,
the glittering bug
that feeds the bird,
the beetles that
break down the dung
so cows can graze
where grass has sprung;
The spraying of pests,
would kill their
predators and more.
Imagine this –
a silent spring
no creature stirs,
and no birds sing.
The bees don’t buzz
no flowers thrive,
she warned that
those bugs left alive
by poison war,
would be much stronger
more toxic killers.
the world’s first
Poem and image © Liz Brownlee
Three Goodbyes? By Roger Stevens
I am moving very, very slowly
Down the valleys of my mother’s face
And when I’ve exhausted
My salt-less tears
The world will be
A very different place
I am hot and humid
I smell of life, and of decay
I sing a million songs
I dance, I play
A thousand different children
call me home
I’m getting smaller every day
I am the fastest on the land
But where I live, the living’s tough
You may think that I
can circumvent the truth
But the truth is
I’m not fast enough
© Roger Stevens
A glacier is a huge accumulation of compacted snow, found near the poles or on a mountainside, where it flows very slowly towards the sea. Most of the world’s glaciers are melting and shrinking as our climate warms up, which is causing sea levels to rise and affects the weather. 2. Rainforests produce oxygen, medicines and are home to more than half the world’s animal species. Organisations such as The Forest Alliance are working hard to save and repair them. 3. Cheetahs, like many animals, are in danger of extinction.
Image of the Franz Josef Glacier © Edwin Lee, by CC license.