TURTLE ISLAND – Raising eco-friendly children is less complicated than it once was. From very early ages, today’s kids are exposed to environmental topics and how they can do their part to maintain and protect the planet’s resources. Between activities at daycare and lessons at school to information they receive from educational television programming, some kids are taking their own environmental initiatives — and involving their parents along the way.
Inspiring children to be eco-friendly can be enjoyable and get those creative juices flowing. The following are eight ways children and their families can work together to protect the environment.
Precycle – Kids can attempt to reduce waste by recognizing products that could be wasteful and then avoiding those items. Toys or everyday items with excessive packaging that we use without thinking are just some examples of items that can be precycled.
Repurpose – Look at items that normally end up in the trash and find new and fun ways to repurpose them. Children can make crafts out of junk mail, catalogs and old newspapers. Juice boxes or plastic containers can be turned into boats or accessories for dolls and action figures. Use natural materials found in the yard or on a nature walk to make a fairy garden or imaginative world for small toys.
Reuse – Toting lunch or snacks around can be more eco-friendly when reusable containers are part of the equation. Explore the many lunch bags, beverage cups, thermoses, Bento boxes, and other packaging available. Many are made from recycled materials as well.
Walk – Encourage getting around without firing up the car. Walking, jogging, biking, or scootering around the neighborhood is more eco-friendly than driving. Many adventures can unfold when seeing the world from a pedestrian’s vantage point, but things are easily missed when riding inside cars or trucks.
Conserve water – Lessons learned in conservation are important. Water is one resource that is crucial to human life. Kids can explore ways to cut down on water consumption or use water more efficiently. The environmental resource Green Lifestyle Changes says that a 10-minute shower with a standard showerhead can use upward of 80 gallons of water and generate up to four pounds of CO2 emissions. Simply reducing shower time can save energy and water. There are other ways to conserve as well. Make it a family project to collect rainwater to use for washing cars or watering plants.
Rent – rather than buy. From toys to video games to movies, people have more entertainment options than ever before. And nowadays it’s easy to access a fresh supply of entertainment without making purchases that require the manufacturing of new items. Streaming rented content rather than buying packaged versions can reduce waste in a number of ways.
Turn off/turn down – Turn off lights, appliances, electronics, and much more when they’re not in use. Also, encourage children (of an appropriate age) to unplug certain electronics so appliances aren’t consuming electricity while in standby mode, which is called vampire power.
Change body care products – Introduce kids to earth-friendly soaps, shampoos, toiletries, and cleaning supplies.
Children are the next generation to take on the task of protecting the planet. When they begin an eco-friendly lifestyle early on, they may be more likely to employ the same strategies in adulthood.