Let children catch the green-bug good and early. Beginning at home, involve them in tasks such as sorting out the recycling. Talk to them about packaging and the way we can reduce the refuse we create by what we buy. Children are like sponges and they will absorb such things readily – even though they may look totally blank.
Establish house rules like never letting the faucet run while cleaning teeth, recycling gray water where possible and collecting rain water to feed plants and vegetables. If these principles are instilled from an early age, children will not think twice about them, they will be as natural to them as breathing.
Teaching children about where food comes from is essential. Planting up seeds for vegetables and nurturing them with the children’s help reinforces important messages about growing our own food, keeping food miles to a minimum and eating seasonally – all positive eco-friendly steps.
Keep a constant dialogue going in the home about the best way to run it on an ecologically friendly basis. Strive to keep it light and positive – don’t lecture. Engage them with interesting approaches to sometimes dull topics. Explain why low energy light bulbs are better, why reducing food waste is good, how insulation works, and why it is better to fix or up-cycle items if we can, rather than disposing of them and buying new ones. Discuss the problems of landfill sites and how they are becoming over run with trash created by humans. It sounds heavy, but it needn’t be. Children sense when they are being patronized, so keep it fun!
Setting a good example to children is key to getting them to follow a green-living path. Use less gas, drive a hybrid car or even better, use cycle power – children love to get out and about on their bikes. Look up to the sky for renewable energy – invest in solar panels to help power the home. A solar panel on the roof can heat water and power lights for free – something the kids will find fascinating.
Trips to the store can be made more interesting by asking the children to select goods that are environmentally friendly – get them to think beyond seductive packaging and to study ingredients and origins of products. The concept of sustainability can be a tough one to explain to small children, but it is worth a try.
When investing in household improvements, let them know how important it is to buy products that are built to last. For example, conserving energy with custom shutters makes sound ecological sense as they help control the loss of heat from a room, and when they are FSC certified it gives peace of mind that the timber has been responsibly sourced. Equally when choosing new white goods, research the most energy efficient models on the market. Information about the eco-credentials of products should always be available and clearly labeled.
Our children will soon be the guardians of mother earth and we should make sure we hand her over in good shape. If we can teach them from an early age the value of protecting the environment and conserving energy, their future and the planet’s will be assured.
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