By Jennifer Landis:
Most of us are concerned with the environmental impact we’re having on the world around us. We drive electric cars, recycle and try to use green energy like solar or wind in our homes whenever we can.
When it comes down to it, though, we’re not doing this for ourselves: we’re trying to create a world we’d be proud to hand down to our children. So, why aren’t we teaching our children how to be more earth-friendly? If you’re worried about raising earth-friendly children, here are five tips and tricks to help you raise “greener” children.
- Grow Your Own Produce
Identifying where your food comes fromcan be hard if you buy it all from the grocery store. Sure, some of it might have labels that show you where the food is grown, but it doesn’t teach you much about its exact origin or how it’s produced.
You can make this an easier lesson by growing your own produce. Sure, you won’t have the selection of the grocery store, but having your children raise their own fruits and vegetables from seeds or seedlings can help them better appreciate the work that goes into their food.
You can also use this as an excuse to create a compost pile — somewhere to dump all your organic waste instead of filling up landfills. This, in turn, can be used to fertilize your plants, thus creating a cycle of reusability. You can cast the skins, seeds and other waste from the fruits and vegetables you grow into the compost pile to feed future plants.
- Set a Good Example
Anyone who has raised children knows that the “Do as I say, not as I do” rule doesn’t work with children. Even if you tell them to do something else, they will mimic the behaviors that you exhibit. That’s why it’s important to show them the sort of eco-friendly behaviors you want them to take out into the world. Don’t just tell them to recycle, then throw your plastics in with the rest of the garbage.
Show your kids how to be Earth-friendly by being Earth-friendly yourself. Seeing your behavior will reinforce the importance of respecting our planet more than any verbal lesson.
- Get Outdoors
There’s no better way to teach your children to appreciate the planet that we call home than getting outdoors and enjoying nature. Planning nature hikes, going on camping trips and talking with park rangers are all great ways to enjoy nature; but it’s not always an option — especially if you have younger children.
Even getting outside and spending some time on the playground can be a useful tool, especially if you have an eco-friendly playground in your area. Playgrounds are also an excellent place for your children to learn how to interact with others. Even if they are considered a high-risk area for conflictamong children, it’s still a great opportunity for your child to get out and enjoy nature.
If your children enjoy spending time outdoors, they’ll more likely do everything they can to protect these green spaces and ensure they exist in the future.
- Install Solar Panels
If you live in an area that gets enough usable sun hours during the year, one of the best things to you can do to go green is to install solar panels on your home. If you’re not sure how many usable sun hours your home gets every year, plug your address into Google’s Project Sunroofto find out.
Installing solar panels is a bit of an investment. While your children might not be involved in the actual installation, they can be included in everything from the decision-making process to the budgeting. It’s more than just a lesson in being eco-friendly — it’s a math lesson, a meteorology lesson and an architecture lesson all rolled into one.
Introducing your children to solar power early will make them more likely to seek out solar or other green power sources when they move into their own homes. This takes it from something you see only in the movies to something obtainable and essential for preserving the environment.
- Go Reusable
Nearly everything in today’s world is disposable. We use and discard napkins, paper towels, straws, diapers and other similar products by the millions every single day. One way we can all help the environment is to switch to reusable products — and doing that in your home can help to reinforce that lesson with your children.
Use reusable washcloths or dish towels in place of paper towels. Invest in reusable straws so you’re not adding to the 500 million plastic strawswe throw away every single day.
You can replace plenty of products in your home with reusable alternatives. Talk to your children about it, too. See which products they think your family could replace with reusables to get them involved in both the conversation and the practice.
It’s up to us to teach the next generation how important it is to be Earth-friendly. After all, we’re leaving this world for them. Let’s do everything we can to make it a place they’ll be proud of long after we’re gone.
Jennifer Landis is a mother, wife, and the editor of Mindfulness Mama . She enjoys yoga, green tea, and dark chocolate. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.