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You and the environment

environment; water; conservation; air; food; shelter; warmth;


What is the environment?

our environment
When we talk about our environment we mean everything in the world around us which can affect our lives.

When we talk about the environment we mean everything in the world around us that surrounds and affects all life on earth, including the air, food chains, the water cycle, plants, animals and other humans.

Climate change is one of the really big environmental changes that is affecting the lives of people, animals and plants all over the world.

Why the environment needs your help

Five basic needs of human beings from the environment are oxygen, water, food, shelter and warmth.

We get these from the planet on which we live.

  • walking in our environmentWe breathe oxygen from the air
  • We get water from the rain which fills our lakes, rivers and creeks and which we store in dams, reservoirs and water tanks.
  • We get food from the plants, animals, fish and birds.
  • We get shelter from the materials we take out of the earth and from plants that grow in the earth (trees) to make our homes.
  • We get warmth from the sun, fire, power (electricity, gas, oil) and our clothing.

Apart from warmth and light from the sun, these all come from our planet.

But over the years the human population has grown and grown.This has had a huge impact on the environment of our planet.

polluting the atmosphereThis impact has caused changes which have affected our atmosphere

  • by polluting it (too much smoke, carbon dioxide and other 'green house gases' such as methane),
  • by making holes in the ozone layer which protects us from some harmful rays of the sun

Everything living on the earth has basic needs. Humans have caused so many changes that many living things cannot get what they need. Some of the changes have led to the extinction of many kinds of wildlife (animals, plants, insects, etc).

We are beginning to realize that our basic human needs are being affected also.

Making changes

A lot of people have worked out ways that are likely to help our environment and we are already starting to make a difference. We all need to try to change our ways to help the environment and ourselves.

How you can help the environment

Use less water

  • Have showers rather than baths. Short showers use less water and also there is less use of energy to heat the water. Have 3 minute showers by wetting yourself, switching off the water while you soap all over and shampoo your hair, then turn the water back on and rinse under the shower, and then turn it off. (Not keeping yourself clean is NOT an option.)
  • Clean your teeth by putting water into a glass. Use the water for wetting your toothbrush, rinsing your mouth and cleaning your brush.
  • use a watering can to water the plantsHelp your family save water by using a watering can to water plants and vegetables in the garden rather than using a hose. Maybe you could help recycle the water from the washing machine.
  • Use a bucket of water to wash your bike, or the dog.
  • Help your school save water by switching off taps properly and using the water fountain for drinking water.

Use less power

  • Things to do so you won't need to run the air-conditioner:
    • Keep doors and curtains or blinds closed in summer during the day to keep out the heat.
    • Open doors and windows on summer evenings to let cooler air into the house.
    • During winter open curtains and blinds during the day to let in any sunshine, then close them in the evening to keep in the heat.
  • Don't switch on lights during the day.
  • Switch off the computer, tv or radio if you are not using it.
  • Use the new light bulbs. 15 watts in a new bulb is equal to 75 watts in an old one. They last longer too.
  • Switch lights off when you leave a room.
    switch off lights, taps and computers
  • Turn your TV or computer off at the wall rather than use power by leaving it on standby.
  • At school remember to switch off lights when the room is empty.
  • Walk or use your bike whenever it is safe to do so.

Make less rubbish

  •  Help make a compost heap or start a worm farm to use up food scraps.
  • Sort out the garbage into what can be recycled and what can't. Use the recycle bin. You can find out where to recycle what by looking at this site. 
  • Save computer paper by printing on both sides.
  • Recycle clothes, toys, books and games by giving them to another family, charity shop or putting into a charity recycle bin at the supermarket.

At school you could 

  • recycle the uniform you have grown out of at the uniform shop
  • use the recycle bin for paper and cardboard
  • maybe start a school compost heap or a class worm farm
  • help make a butterfly garden by planting the kind of flowering native shrubs that they like
  • put your rubbish into the right bin.

Make your pet environmentally friendly!

  •  If you have a cat, keep it inside at night. Cats like to hunt and many small native animals are killed by them. Put small bells on its collar so that it can be heard.
    make your pet environmentally friendly
  • Clean up after your dog when you go for a walk. I know it's yucky but if you use a plastic bag you'll keep your hands clean, as well as the ground where others want to walk, and you might stop disease spreading.
  • If you no longer want your pet rabbit, dog, cat, or even goldfish don't just dump it. These animals can all survive in the wild, by taking the food of native creatures or killing animals, birds, fish and insects. Help protect our wildlife by finding your pet a new home or talking to your vet about what you can do.
  • Have your dog or cat de-sexed so that there are not lots of unwanted baby animals brought into the world. Perhaps you could make sure you only have boy rabbits, or only girl rabbits – so they do not make babies.

Make less impact on the environment

  • If you can't find a bin, take your rubbish home.
  • If you are fishing, be careful that you don't leave hooks or bits of fishing line around. You could harm fish or other water creatures. Put the fish back if it's small - it needs to grow up or there won't be any more fish!
  • Stay off sand dunes at the beach so that they don't get damaged.
  • Looking for small creatures at the beach is fun, but be sure to put them back under cover or they could die.

What else can you do?

You can find out more about our environment.

  • Here are some sites which will help you.
  • You could talk to the ranger at your nearest national park.
  • You could get involved at school or at home with one or more of the many organisations around who are trying to help our environment. Your school will have an 'environment' policy. You and your class might be able to do some work around your school.  

What kids say

  • "Plant more trees, they give us oxygen and shade." Damian
  • We take our rubbish home if we can't find a bin. Rubbish can hurt animals in the bush." Kate
  • "Cleaning up after your dog is yucky, but how would you feel if you stepped in it?"
  • "Dad put a hose on the washing machine so all the water comes into the garden and waters the plants." Ryan
    re-use washing machine water
  • "I get all the stuff that I can recycle. I rinse them out and put them in the recycle bin. If they have a 10c deposit on them I save them in a box then take them to the recycle place and I get the money for them," Brooke
  • "I turn the lights off when I leave a room." Dallas
  • "We have a timer on the shower. You have to be quick if you wash your hair."
  • "We make compost with food scraps then we put it on the veggies. We have solar power too." Maxine

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim and Dr KateFor us to be healthy we need to live in a healthy environment. The small changes each one of us can make will add up to big changes which will help make our environment healthier now and in the future.

Another basic need for humans is contact with other humans. Everyone is unique and special and we all need to learn to live with each other. We can do this by respecting and accepting each other's differences, caring for each other and learning to work together to help ourselves and our environment.

Out topic 'What is diversity' can tell you more about our lives with other humans.

working together

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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