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Monday, October 26, 2009

Inspiring Your Children to Care for the Environment

By Guest Blogger Jenni Hopkins Mowery

Jenni appeared on Fox 8 News with us this summer and showed the viewers some fantastic waste-free products for lunches. She was so knowledgeable on ways to be eco-friendly, so we asked her to share some of her Smarty Wisdom with our readers. Take notes on all these fabulous ways to bring more green ideas into your home. - Rachel H.

1 — Play in the Dirt!
There is no better way to teach children about the earth than to let them get all down and dirty in it! Plant seeds in your house this winter and transfer those plants to the ground outside when the sun comes out in spring. Put the kids in charge of seeing that the soil is healthy and the plants are getting enough sun and water. Grow flowers, grow veggies, it doesn’t matter, just grow!! Challenge yourself and your kids by growing an entire rainbow (example: red poppies, orange carrots, yellow daffodils, green hostas, blueberries, purple hydrangea).

The point is to form a connection in their mind from themselves as people to their role in nurturing and protecting what grows in and on this beautiful earth; how special it is, how vital it is to their well-being.

2 — Walk & Bike More
Broaden your children’s definition of transportation. We love our cars, yes, but think of the ways that we can get around without them! Walk to school or the bus stop; drive downtown, then park and walk to the library, the ice-cream shop and the farmer’s market. Ride bikes as a family to the neighborhood eatery for supper. Getting from point A to point B can be carbon neutral and calorie burning when we think outside the box (or car). For your kids this can mean a better sense of safety on the streets and an earlier sense of independence and pride.

3 — Create Less Waste
This is a fun and easy way for kids to learn to love their earth! Start with a trip to the landfill so they can see just how ugly and permanent throwing something in the trash is. My mother never said, “throw that away” to instill in us that nothing truly gets thrown away, it all goes somewhere, and instead she asked “are you going to put that in the landfill?” Have your kids think about what that juice box means to the beauty of the earth and empower them with a non-disposable cup! Sounds silly, but it makes a BIG difference.

Count the bags of garbage your family makes this week and then set goals for reducing that number. Let the kids join in the fun (example: decorate cloth napkins to go in lunchboxes and be used at the dinner table). The less waste we create, the cleaner our air, our water and our soil. And the more space our grandchildren will have to run and play. Those are great reasons to loosen our grip on those plastic baggies!

4 — Recycle
This tip goes hand-in-hand with #3; the best way to reduce what goes to the landfill is to recycle whatever we possibly can. Under a new law that took effect Oct. 1, North Carolina will be banning plastic containers from landfills. This includes any bottles with a neck smaller than the container itself. Aluminum cans are already on the banned list.

Getting started and making recycling a habit for your family is much easier than you think! Get two containers (1)paper and cardboard items and 2)plastics 1-7, glass, recyclable metals), put them near your main wastebin and make it a game for your kids to sort the items that can be recycled, give out prizes to the kid who identifies the most recyclable items that day. Paste or paint the three arrows symbol on a cape and voila, a recycling superhero is born!

5 — Share
One of the top lessons we hope our kids learn, sharing. There is no greener concept than this one, the truest form of recycling is reusing. As our clothes get too small, we share them with the local mission or Goodwill, as our interests change, we share those toys and books with a children’s charity. Consignment shopping, visiting the local library, and having the neighbors over for supper are all ways of broadening the meaning of sharing to a child. When a child learns that people come first, before possessions, and that we all have more when we share, we have done our job as parents.

Thank you, Jenni, for this inspiration to encourage our children to take care of our earth. Readers, share below how you encourage your family to be a little more eco-friendly!


jennifer said...

I really like the grow a rainbow idea. Maybe then I can actually get my son to eat a rainbow as well!

Amy said...

We have added recycling bin to the chore list for our children. We make it a game to see who can fill up the recycling bin with the most items when it is his or her week to take the bin to the curb. Works like a charm.

Catherine said...

Great post. Thanks for the ideas.

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