The arrival of our Calvert Homeschool box is always a big event, as every Calvert family will attest to.
It’s usually a day when everything else gets put aside so we can all dig through the goodies.
Katie is an old hand at Opening Day — always quick to arm herself and attack her school work, in the best possible way.
Usually, the procedure for obtaining our Calvert box involves lengthy visits to Customs officials, not to mention arduous haulage via crowded local buses and a cautious dinghy ride (so the box doesn’t get wet!) back to our boat.
This year it was SO EASY. The box was dropped off at our door by a smiling postman and Katie was able to “dive right in”. She knows very well that these boxes contain the key to her dreams of the future.
Growing up on a boat has given Katie first-hand experiences that complement her education.
She is by nature, and because of her upbringing, an environmentalist. She has witnessed oil spills, collected garbage along beaches, and studied the habitats and life of fish, sea birds and land animals.
For an eight-year-old child, she has an astounding comprehension of our direct relationship with the sea.
Katie’s great dream is to become a diver, (closely followed by a marine biologist, a writer and a mum…in something like that order).
While our boat waits for us on a mooring in Grenada, West Indies, Katie is gaining a whole new raft of “land” experiences.
Of course, the beauty of homeschooling, and Calvert in particular, is that no matter where in the world she is, Katie can continue her studies.
She works as hard as she thinks she needs to (!!) but her favourite subject is, most definitely, Science.
A brand-new science book was one of the reasons she was very excited to receive her Calvert box.
This morning, however, the unpacking process brought with it an unexpected conflict of dreams, and prompted an urgent discussion that went something like this:
“Mummy, what’s all this stuff?”
“It’s polystyrene covered in a plastic bag. It’s used to keep the materials in the box from shifting around.”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“It will have to be thrown away.”
“But, polystyrene! We’ve seen this in the water. The turtles eat it. The fish eat it and then they float up to the surface and die.
“You can’t throw it away. You have to keep it. It lasts forever.”
I told her that even if I could find a way to re-use it, it would eventually end up in a landfill site or the ocean. The only real solution was to urge Calvert to find an alternative that could be recycled, or would decay naturally.
Hence, this long post, and the following open letter to our good friends at Calvert, written by Katie this morning with all the urgency and anxiety of a child who has seen what happens to her beloved fish and birds, to the ocean that she loves, if these materials continue to be used.
Today, I unpacked my grade 3 curriculum. There was a lot of great books, but I was sad to find a lot of polystyrene in the box that my curriculum came in.
I am sad because when we throw away plastics and polystyrene it sometimes ends up in the ocean, and that is very bad for the fish and turtles and sea birds.
It is bad for them because they will eat the plastic and polystyrene, thinking that it is food.
We can all help by not using plastic and polystyrene to pack our boxes.
Katie Aspey (8yrs)
…and in the meantime, I shall try to find a way of disposing of it properly. I understand the problems of packaging, of trying to keep the boxes both light and in tact, however, I too have seen the effects of these materials in our oceans.
The only power, we as a people, have to make change is our choice. Please, make the right one, and find a sustainable alternative.
A documentary currently being filmed on “Midway Atoll”, a tiny speck of sand more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, graphically demonstrates the effects of waste plastic in our environment. It is heartbreaking. It is a call to action. Please take a moment to watch the preview of the film, which is due to be released this year. http://www.midwayfilm.com/
There is also their blog: http://www.midwayjourney.com/