When did we get so wasteful? Anne Fine's top tips to save the planet

Published on: 15 July 2019 Author: Anne Fine

Former Waterstones Children's Laureate Anne Fine has written a fun new story for children about the wonder of recycling, so we asked her to share her top tips with us...

The cover of Into the Bin (And Out Again) and a photo of author Anne Fine

We know how important it is to take better care of the environment. We see enough worrying pictures of smoggy cities and plastic rubbish on land and in the seas. We know the damage that pollution does to bees and fish and animals. And we know that, if you won't be part of the solution, then you're part of the problem.

It might sound mad to say recycling used to be dead normal. Sometimes it was even fun. One of my grannies took all her family's kitchen scraps round for the pig on the nearest farm. At Christmas, they were given a chicken in return.

Another granny cut all the newspapers she read into squares, saying, 'I've no money to waste on fancy toilet rolls.' Even my own mother was forever boasting, 'I've never had to buy a ball of string. I just unravel what comes in.'

And I'll admit I haven't bought elastic bands for thirty years. I started picking up ones dropped by the postal workers, and now have a fat bouncing ball of them ready for any occasion.

Changing our habits

When and why did we get so wasteful? If I nagged for new things, my mother scolded, 'You can't have everything. Where on earth would you put it?' She was wrong about my bedroom – plenty of space there - but right about the little green planet we live on. There simply isn't room for all this rubbish.

We have to learn to be more careful and recycle. Some things are easy to change. Brushing your teeth with water running can waste four gallons. Turning off the tap when you're not rinsing uses less than a quarter of that.

Tap water's safer than bottled water (and almost a thousand times cheaper!) Tap water is checked daily; bottled water firms only have to check once a month. And that's just the water! Drink from a plastic bottle all year and that's 365 lumps of plastic that used up factory energy to make, materials for the storage areas, and fuel for the lorries to get them to you.

Making the most of recycling

With so many charity shops, we can do even better than my grandmothers. Not only can you find presents for everyone - clothes, toys, kitchen equipment, sports stuff - but loads of the stuff is actually brand new.

Take books. Brilliant books for almost nothing! Find the ideal gift for your mum or brother, and download a lovely free bookplate from My Home Library to make it even more special.

And if you need any more ideas for tried and tested recycling, ask the nearest great-granny!

Into the Bin by Anne Fine and illustrator Vicki Gausden is out now, published by Barrington Stoke.

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