Healthy habits start early. Cliché as it is, in the case of environmental awareness, the familiar saying rings true! Do you live a green lifestyle? Teaching your kids about living green can help encourage future green efforts for generations to come.
The earlier you teach your children good “going green” habits, the more likely it is that they will continue those practices and even pass them along to their own kids. We’ve compiled a list of ideas to get the ball rolling with your family’s green efforts. Not only do many of these activities present excellent learning opportunities, they also encourage environmental awareness that will become ingrained in your family’s way of life!
Plant a seed – Start small! Give your child a potted plant to care for (try something simple and easy to care for at first). Not only does this project foster a personal connection with/appreciation of nature, it is a great way to teach your kids about responsibility! If you choose a plant that can survive outdoors, consider planting it outside when the weather permits. If you’re feeling especially ambitious, tending to a vegetable or flower garden can be a wonderful activity for the whole family, and a great, hands-on way to learn about the environment! Don’t have the time to care for a full-fledged garden? Planting a tree can be a wonderful project to keep track of for years to come.
Keep an aquarium – Much like our environment, aquariums subsist on a delicate balance and require proper care and attention. Keeping an aquarium is a fun way to teach the kids about our oceans and water sustainability, as well as natural processes such as symbiotic relationships. You never know… getting your children excited about marine life may even spark future conservation efforts!
Compost – Composting goes hand in hand with gardening, and can be a vital step in reducing the amount of recyclable/reusable garbage that typically ends up in landfills. Your compost pile can make for wonderful planting soil, too! Learn more about what you can and cannot compost as well as some helpful tips here.
Recycle – It seems basic, but you’d be surprised by the number of families who do not recycle (or unknowingly throw away recyclable materials). Keep a well-marked recycling bin and explain the concept of recycling, reducing, and reusing to the whole family. Make it fun! Reserve a Saturday to take the kids to a recycling plant and show them how the objects they use every day are recycled, or come up with some fun, home recycling projects.
Teach/reinforce energy conservation habits – Even if you’re making the effort to conserve energy on your own, your kids won’t know how or why unless you share with them! Whenever you make a “green” purchase or decision, such as buying energy-efficient light bulbs or drying your clothes on a clothesline in the summer, be sure to let the kids know how your efforts affect the environment.
Carpool – Do you drive your children to school every day? How about to extracurricular and weekend activities or playgroups? For future events, try carpooling with other families in your neighborhood! Arranging a carpooling schedule has other benefits, too… like some extra “me-time” when it’s your day off!
Reward systems – Never underestimate the power of positive reinforcement. Keep a penny jar or some kind of incentive system for every time the kids place an item in the recycling bin. When the jar is full, plan a fun trip, picnic, or outdoor activity that the kids will look forward to.
Just beginning your green efforts? There’s no problem with taking baby steps. Learn together as a family! There are countless resources online and within your community that provide education about going green, energy conservation and sustainability.
Have any other tips or green traditions that work for your family? We’d love to hear about them! Feel free to share with us on Facebook.