Something as simple and festive as a helium balloon is actually very dangerous to sea life and other animals; whale poop is an important part of why we have oxygen to breathe; you can make sponges out of old socks and t-shirts. These are just some of the lessons kids learned last week at Monacology.
Monacology, an annual event celebrating its 15th anniversary, took place at an eco-village in front of Stars N’ Bars on Quai Antoine 1er. Small wooden chalets looked like log cabins and held educational stations where local businesses and organisations taught local children small ways to make Monaco more sustainable.
Many stations focused on a zero waste lifestyle. Square wooden blocks with nails hammered in served as looms for children to make their own Tawashi: sponges made with old socks or T-shirt sleeves. On the final day of the event, kids were treated to a visit by Prince Albert II, who joyfully accepted a Tawashi gift from an admiring student.
The Oceanographic Museum’s ‘Party Without Balloons’ project presented the consequences of balloon releases on biodiversity, especially on sea turtles and birds. Students were invited to think about alternative options that are equally festive and less harsh on the environment. All workshops at the eco village challenge children to think of themselves as a small part of a larger ecological system.
“Without the whales, we would not be able to breathe, because they are the ocean’s fertilizers,” Berit Legrand, Founder of TAF, The Animal Fund, explained. “The way they eat krill, whale poo feeds plankton, who give oxygen to us. Without that cycle, we wouldn’t be able to breathe.”
To help children understand, Berit Legrand included a picture game showing how whales go to the bottom of the ocean to eat krill, tiny shrimp that are very nutritious. The whales swim to the surface to do their business. She explained that whale excrement is the same red color as the krill, and an important food source for the plankton, who take away the carbon dioxide from the excrement and convert it to oxygen.
Children learned about the importance of changing our habits to control our waste and our way of consuming. With the theme ‘Monaco, my sustainable city’, nearly 1,000 students from the Principality developed their eco-citizenship through learning about sustainable living, the importance of preserving coastal environments, and the power of mobilising schools and the community.
More than 30 groups were present, representing the Monaco Government, the Directorate of National Education of Youth and Sports, and local organisations and businesses, all who set up workshops focused on the sustainability commitments of the Principality. The eco village was 100% green and made of wooden chalets provided by the Town Hall which will be reused for at least a decade. Meanwhile, solar panels produced electricity for the village.
“I’m so proud of the environmental leadership that Monaco has taken in the world and the role that Monacology has played for the last 15 years,” said Monacology co-founder Kate Powers. “We can do more, Monaco can do more, but the key is teaching and inspiring the next generation to do even better.”