It takes a plastic six-pack holder 100 years to decompose in the natural environment.
In the meantime, it poses a danger to wildlife.
And what about a soda can?
Even a seemly benign orange peel can take anywhere from 30 days to two years to decompose.
These statistics may sound trivial, but when children hear this information, they tend to act more responsibly and take better care of the environment.
Children across the country will have a chance to hear how they can be better stewards of the environment while camping at Jellystone Park Camp Resorts. Weekend activities at many Jellystone Park Camp Resorts now include environmental education.
Last year, the Milford, Ohio-based family campground chain became the first campground organization in the country to join Leave No Trace, a Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit organization that develops educational programs designed to help children and adults take better care of the environment.
“Our franchisees attended training sessions with Leave No Trace earlier this year, and many of them are now incorporating LNT’s nature based educational programs into their weekend activity schedules,” said Michele Wisher, director of marketing for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks.
The Lake Monroe Jellystone Park in Bloomington, Ind., was one of the first to implement the program.
“It’s been very popular,” said Cheryl Smith, the park’s general manager, adding that she has scheduled nature activity weekends periodically throughout the summer and fall.
Young children typically participate in age-appropriate discussions about the importance of recycling and taking care of the environment. “That’s when they learn how long it takes for different things to decompose in the natural environment,” Smith said, while classes in environmental ethics are offered to teenagers.
“In the environmental ethics class, teens learn about the erosion that takes place when they take shortcuts on hiking trails or the lasting damage that occurs when they carve their names in trees or leave trash behind,” Smith said, adding, “The whole point of this effort is to raise awareness about things we can do to lessen our negative impact on our natural surroundings.”
Other activities include crafts classes in which children make various crafts out of recycled materials, garden activities, in which children plant various trees and shrubs in the campground, and short educational videos, which parks can show before their regular nighttime movies.
Dana Gabriel, who co-owns the Jellystone Park in Swansea, S.C., said her park has already had Earth Day activities and plans to continue to offer additional nature activities based on the Leave No Trace curriculum. “We do as much education as we can with the kids,” she said. “We tell them, 'If you pack it in, pack it out.' And we see that this helps produce tidier campers. They start to feel a synergy with the park and we’ll even start to see kids out there picking up after each other.”