Kids Can Be Green Too! – 7 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Help Save the Planet
As adults, we try to be aware of the multitude of issues facing the world today, and take pride in our ability to consider many different factors when making decisions. But kids are much more likely to be influenced by advertising, media images and peer pressure, and most of those images are about measuring up to everyone else by consuming and spending more and more. As parents, relatives, friends and teachers, we adults can still exert a powerful influence, and it is our responsibility and great delight to reach out to them and help them to understand the impact we humans have on our delicate planet. Here are some easy tips to help the children in your life to become ever more aware of the little things we can all do every day to make a difference.
1) Grow a garden with your kids, and if you don’t have room for one in the ground, get a large pot for the patio or front porch and grow a cherry tomato plant. They are easy to grow (you can use bamboo stakes to help hold up the plant) and who doesn’t love a sweet-as-sugar, sun-warmed freshly picked cherry tomato? Help your child to understand that food comes from the earth and not just from the grocery store or restaurant. Make a simple spray of one tablespoon biodegradable soap to one quart of water to spritz your plant if you have unwanted bugs, and teach your child that you are not adding harmful chemicals to your food this way.
2) Make a Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Art Box. Find a sturdy cardboard box and glue bits of scrap paper to the outside to decorate it. Once you start looking, you’ll find bright colors and interesting designs and textures of paper everywhere: in your junk mail, in used wrapping paper, in the Sunday comics, and in old greeting cards and envelopes. Use this box to store art supplies for future projects: toilet paper tubes, odd bits of fabric, buttons, yarn or string, shells or rocks you’ve found at the beach or park, extra printer paper from work that was going to be tossed anyway (every office has a stack next to the printer). Enlist your child to help you find interesting and colorful things everywhere, and then let that natural youthful creativity come alive!
3) Get them started early in choosing earth friendly fabrics when you go clothes shopping. Cotton fabric will biodegrade in one to five months, wool in one to five years and nylon in 30 to 40 years. And when their clothes wear out, take them to your local Salvation Army or Goodwill donation site. Someone can probably still wear those clothes, and if they are too worn, some second hand stores supply old clothing to recyclers who will turn them into other products.
4) Start a compost bin for kitchen waste. You can make a simple bin by drilling holes in a plastic storage bin. Drill them several inches apart on all sides, in the top lid and bottom too. Set the bin on a couple of bricks or rocks, inside another slightly larger shallow bin or lid, to collect the liquid that will drip out (don’t toss this, but use it to water your plants. It is highly nutritious). Ask your child to collect the carrot peelings, apple cores, orange rinds and other veggie and fruit waste and help teach your kids how vegetable waste matter returns to the earth. Teach them that even compostable material, if it is sealed in a plastic garbage bag and tossed into the dump, can take many years to decompose . (Lots more composting ideas can be found in the link at the end of this article)
5) Get them to help you think of ways to conserve energy in your home and car. Can you carpool with their friends to the park or to a sleepover? Find a map of your neighborhood and mark out the places you drive to the most. Then plan together to group your outings to save on gas. This helps your child learn about your town, a little about basic geometry, and saves you money too.
6) Take your child shopping with you and choose all natural biodegradable dish and dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, hand soap, shampoo and conditioner. It’s easier than you think. If your local store doesn’t carry these items, there are ideas for ordering them online in the link at the end of this article. Your child can help you choose interesting new and natural scents while you explain that everything that goes down the drain ends up in our rivers and oceans and, eventually, back in our water supply.
7) Tell them about the huge floating sea of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, made up of garbage. This disgusting mess is twice the size of Texas! How many of those plastic water and soda bottles might have been used by your family, thrown in the trash instead of the recycle bin? Teach them to be an activist when it comes to hanging on to plastic until there is a place to recycle it, and better yet, switch to reusable items instead: stainless steel water bottles, and lunches without excess plastic packaging.
Children naturally want to help out, to be kind, and to be creative. Start teaching them at a young age how they can make a difference for all of us.
I have co-founded a website that is dedicated to those who wish to live a more natural and organic life. Together with my sister Kathy, we have created Organic Eden. Our site has lots and lots of information about planting and growing your own organic garden, and about creating a more natural and eco-friendly home. We’ve done the research for you, and our website provides links to many natural and safe products for your garden, home and family. We are both Grandmas who want to help create a safer and healthier world to pass on to our precious grandchildren.
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