9 Great Ways to Teach Your Kids to Go Green

Many of us want to reduce our carbon footprint and take the steps to live more eco-consciously.  But how can we pass on our green values to future generations and our kids?  Many children may find it hard to wrap their minds around ideas like global warming or a hole in the ozone.  But from the time they’re toddlers, there are plenty of things you can do to help them become more environmentally aware and to do their part in protecting the planet.

Show Them How to Recycle

Recycling is one of the best and simplest ways to teach your children about environmental issues. Teaching kids how to separate glass from plastic from cardboard—and letting them see how much material they are saving from the landfill each and every week— is a great, concrete lesson in environmental stewardship. You can even make it into a game and have them compete each week to see how much stuff they can save for recycling.

Save Water and Energy

It’s possible to save water and energy even in the middle of suburbia—and get your kids on board with it, too.  Conservation efforts can be as simple as teaching your kids to turn off lights when they’re not using them, shutting off the water when they are brushing their teeth, or to resist the temptation to take a half-hour shower.  These simple, green habits can carry on into adulthood—and it’s not just good for the planet, but for your pocketbook as well.

Use a Rain Barrel

Do you and your family grow flowers or vegetables in your backyard? If so, you probably notice that the water bill in the summertime can skyrocket—especially if the summer is a hot or dry one.  Installing a rain barrel that’s designed to attach to one of your gutters to collect rainwater for use in the garden is an environmentally-friendly way to keep your garden growing without misusing water.  Attach a hose to fit onto the barrels, and your kids can water the garden with rainwater.

Grow a Garden

If you have a back deck—or even a sunny window ledge—then you’ve got room for a garden.  Many plants like tomatoes, strawberries and even dwarf fruit trees—like to grow in pots.  If you have a little space in your backyard, you might want to get ambitious and consider something a bit more sophisticated.

Growing even a bit of your food saves money and energy—and gives you peace of mind knowing that it is free of dangerous chemicals. It also helps your children connect with nature on a daily basis.

Start a Compost Pile

It's estimated that Americans throw away around 40% of the food that they buy. Instead of throwing away your unused fruit and vegetables, put them to good use. A compost pile is a great place to dump raked leaves in the fall, grass clippings in the summer, and food waste all year round.  You can throw away fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, tea bags, and egg shells. And you and your kids both will probably be surprised at how much food waste you can use to make rich, loamy soil that you can later use in your garden.

Participate in a Local Clean-Up

Teach your kids to be good stewards of the planet by actively taking care of it. Many environmental, civic, or religious groups will often sponsor a clean-up of parks, streams, and beaches. This is a good way to teach kids about why it is important not to litter, and gives them a sense of empowerment when they know they can do something to help improve their local natural areas.

Be a Junior Ranger

Many state and national parks or even a nature centers have some version of a “junior ranger” program. These usually take place in the summer and offer opportunities for kids to learn about the trees, rocks, plants, and animals and they get a chance to participate in a lot of great outdoor activities while they learn. Popular activities include night hikes, learning about animal tracks, and how to use edible wild plants (with adult supervision of course).

Make Your Backyard Eco-Friendly

Improve the natural interest (and beauty) of your backyard with a few simple ideas.  Plant native trees and shrubs to support local wildlife, start a butterfly garden, put up bird feeders, or add a simple water feature like a pond. The kids will love playing in this thriving natural habitat backyard, and so will the wildlife. 

Eat Organic

Buying as much organic food as you can afford—and purchasing locally at farmer’s markets—teaches kids about the importance of food and how it affects the environment.  Talk about food miles, pesticides, and farm vs. factory food.

Let them pick out vegetables from a local fruit stand. Go on an agri-tour of a local sheep farm. Pick blueberries right off the bushes at a nearby farm.  Your kids will have a ton of fun – and they will learn some important lessons as well.

How do your children take part in your family’s green efforts?  

Tags : green living   nature   environment   recycle   

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