The consumer marketplace is filled with products and services that make day to day life convenient for busy parents. Disposable plates and cups make is easy to clean up after a meal and garbage pick-up makes it easy to throw something away and never think about it again. If we stop to think about our impact on the earth we know that we can’t think this way, and we want our kids to be mindful of their impact on our planet as well. While the deck may appear to be stacked against us, it is possible to raise green kids in this consumer wonderland and it all starts with decisions we make in the home.
One of the easiest ways to teach kids about being good stewards of the earth is to teach them about recycling and heave them play an active role in the process in our own home. Kids need to know about why recycling is needed and how we can easily overwhelm our planet with garbage if we don’t recycle whenever possible. Provide small tubs or cans for your kids and label accordingly…glass, cardboard, paperboard, aluminum cans, tin cans, etc. Make it a weekly responsibility for them to sort the items to be recycled and take them out to be picked up by the city. If you do not have city pickup you can make special trips to the nearest recycling facility and as a bonus they may get to see the recycling process in action.
Also, be sure to buy post consumer recycled products whenever possible. Even your child’s toothbrush can be bought from a company that used recycled materials. Preserve is a company that makes toothbrushes from recycled yogurt cups for example.
Buy Second Hand Clothing and Toys
Buying used clothing and toys is one of the best ways to buy recycled materials, as second hand items have just been recycled by their previous owners so that someone else can use them and give them a new life. Instead of buying new clothes and toys why not save money and planetary resources by shopping for previously loved items? If your kids ask why you don’t buy new just tell them that you are all doing your part to help reduce stress on Mother Earth. Freecyle is a great program available in many US cities that allows members to give away or receive recycled items, all for free.
Teach kids from an early age that conserving resources such as energy and water is important. Have them help you build a cistern or a rain water collection system so that you can capture rainfall and to use during droughts or for watering indoor plants. It can be game for them to monitor how fast the water accumulates.
Stress the importance of turning on all lights and electrical appliances when not in use. Plug TVs, DVD units, CD players, video game systems, etc into one power strip and have them turn it off after each use. Small reminder signs can be made and placed near exit ways or on remote controls to help them remember to do this.
When the weather is permitting have your children help you hang clothes outside on a clothes line to dry. You use sun power and conserve energy in the process. Think about other ways that you can use alternative energy in your home too.
All of these small steps can make a big impact. Of course the biggest impact might be on our children as we teach them that living in harmony with out planet and keeping it beautiful is important.