By Larraine Roulston:
At no other time in history than now has it been more important to encourage children to be green. To raise eco-conscious children, you have to teach by example. If, for example, the family frequents events, be sure to lug-a-mug for those popular drinks that all enjoy, shake hands dry from rinsing in a public sink, and refrain from idling your car while everyone buckles up.
Today’s Internet helps both parents and teachers. For example, the American Forest and Paper Association lists 23 fun facts about paper. Sharing some of these with your children will help influence habits:
— Use up scrap paper, and encourage your children to draw on both sides of fresh sheets.
— For crafts, utilize old greeting cards, calendars, magazines, egg cartons and cereal boxes.
— Also, maintain a collection of other materials that normally would be discarded.
— For other inside activities, engage in paperless games such as “I Spy” and experiment with creating shadow images on the wall.
Challenge your kids to discover what you’ve missed putting into your recycling bin. They might just spot a discarded toilet roll cylinder in the bathroom trash.
“Water Use It Wisely” can teach everyone to be water conscious. Brush teeth with one hand on the facet to turn it off and on. Shave a couple of minutes off lengthy showers. Test the “navy shower” method, for example: it’s what sailors do on ships when fresh water is a precious commodity. Here, sailors turn on water to wet themselves, then turn off the water to soap, and finally turn it on again to rinse. Kids love these kinds of stories and, who knows, they might just encourage everyone else to do it. Place a pitcher of drinking water in the fridge to provide a constant supply of cold water. Demonstrate grey water recycling by using dish and bath water for watering backyards and for other uses.
Children can create artistic “lights off” signs to display in rooms and hallways. Discover the best family detective who unplugs those phantom energy users — appliances with little glowing lights that still draw electricity when not in use. Share your utility bills with your children and have a treat in store when costs go down. Have fun making up rhymes while teaching the life-cycle skill of hanging laundry to dry rather than using the clothes dryer.
Planting a backyard or balcony garden is a great way to spend quality time with your children and, at the same time, they will appreciate growing the vegetables. By including milkweed and flowers to attract butterflies, you might witness a monarch caterpillar transforming into a butterfly. Observing the marvels of nature doesn’t get much better than that! I wish I had known about this when I was a young mom. When starting a compost pile, your children will learn good stewardship of the soil. Having a worm bin will teach them about caring for a worm’s habitat.
Read nature books. When I was a child, the Adventures of the Green Forest series by Thornton Burgess was popular. During the 1970s, his fables were made into a children’s television show. Burgess was credited as being a contributor to animal conservation. Perhaps it was destiny that I loved these tales when I was learning to read, as today I strive to promote conservation with the compost critters in my Pee Wee’s Adventures in Castle Compost series.
Our children must have a sound environmental base in order to become our future leaders in sustainability. For this, we need Kermit the Frog to say, “It’s gotta be easy going green.”
“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” — Joann Wolfgang von Goethe, a German Poet born in the seventeenth century.
Larraine authors children’s story books on composting at www.castlecompost.com. Next book in the series will be Pee Wee Meets the Pollinators.