'Waste Wisely' With New PBS Kids Game

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We Can Waste Wise gives kids a chance to use their imaginations while recycling and reusing everyday items.

Recycling isn’t always about simply tossing an item into a bin. It also embodies the concepts of reuse and repurposing – and a bit of creativity.

Utilizing these ideas, Florida PBS radio stations WFSU and WDSC; in partnership with MolaConola Productions LLC, a local environmentally conscious children’s television producer; the state’s Department of Environmental Protection and Department of Environmental Education; and Earth911.com, worked together to create a game for kids that uses imagination to teach the three Rs called “We Can Waste Wise.”

The imaginative game, whose host Ms. Mola and characters made from recycled materials (the “Recyc-olas”) teach kids about how to sort and prepare items for recycling or composting, as well as how to repurpose odds and ends from their homes through a virtual arts and crafts portion. By creating their own Recyc-ola and e-mailing it to friends and family, kids have fun while learning to be more environmentally conscious.

“As I was helping write and develop for the game, I just thought, you know what, I would just love to have some characters that are kid-friendly and can really personify what this game is about, which is being creative and giving kids a different idea about what they can do with stuff they might normally throw in the trash,” says Molly Conole, who plays Ms. Mola Canola in the game and on her pilot show, Ms. Mola’s Make-ola!

Canole created each of the Recyc-olas from scratch. “I sat down for about 10 days straight, completely took over the dining room table, and started creating these different characters, each out of a recyclable material,” she says. “And it was just great fun, I’m just really proud of them.”

The Recyc-olas featured in the game are made with recycled and repurposed materials. Photo: Courtesy of MolaCanola Productions

Players can also learn about recycling opportunities and methods in their local area, accessible through the Earth911.com Recycling Directory, featured on the game’s homepage. The We Can Waste Wise is the product of a PBS and Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant, and is now in its second year.

“A big thing about the grant for this second year was localization, so that’s where we came up with the idea of incorporating Earth911,” says Trisha Moynihan, director of internet services for WFSU, who worked on the game that was sponsored first year as part of the same grant series.

“That was one thing they [PBS] were really happy about was the amount of localization we had involved in the project, including Earth911’s help.”

The game has also helped spur on change throughout the wider PBS network. “PBS, over the late summer, launched it on their site so other stations could use it,” says Moynihan. “But the problem they’re running into now is that not enough stations have kids sites, so now we’re working on initiatives to get stations to have better kids sites and implement the game.”

Earth911.com is excited to be a part of the game. “We have an opportunity to present recycling information to children, so this is a great step in exploring what that is and how to do that,” said Tony Ash, director of operations for Earth911. “Because at some point in the future I think it will be important to have an educational resource section on our site to promote recycling.”

Try your hand at recycling through We Can Waste Wise, and tweet your (or your child’s) Recyc-ola on to @Earth911 for a chance to win a free Earth911.com t-shirt! We’ll be accepting entries Nov. 8-12 and will announce the winners on America Recycles Day!

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