One question I get asked often is, “How did you learn how to be green?” For me, it’s an ongoing learning process. However, most of what I do was taught to me by my parents. If anyone could live off the land, it would be my Dad. He taught our family a lot about making the most of our resources, reducing our waste impact, and growing much of our own food in the summer months. One could also say he is really frugal, which spearheaded a lot of these routines. Totally true, but he taught me many valuable lessons about how be eco-responsible well before it became the trendy thing to do.
I walked around the house the past few weeks looking at all the ways I encourage and teach my kids to be green. Some are simple words we use, others are the systems we have in place for our family. The list below is ways that work for our family, with children four and under. As they grow, I expect this list will change and hopefully expand as they take on more responsibilities.
- Recycling station is accessible and easy to understand. The kids also learn what can and can’t be recycled.
- Compost is a part of their vocabulary; they know to save their banana peels and apple cores for the shiny bucket under the sink.
- Walk to do errands instead of driving
- Offer paper from the recycling bin for coloring. Explain the importance of using both sides of a paper.
- Turning off lights when we leave the room.
- Conserving water. We encourage this while brushing teeth, washing hands and while washing dishes.
- Use a shower timer. Both kids love showers and they know that when the timer is up, it’s time to get out.
- Not wasting food. Still tough for them to understand, I’m trying to be more mindful of reducing their portions and let them ask for seconds instead.
- Spending time outdoors instead of in front of the TV
- Explaining the idea of making donations when we have too much toy clutter.
- Saving clothes that are too small for younger family members. (JJ thinks his girl cousin will wear all of his too-small clothes!)
- Reusing the same glass throughout the day.
- Teaching the kids how to cook and talk about where ingredients come from. We had a great conversation the other day when Madison asked if we could make maple syrup as our afternoon project.
- Involve them in gardening if you have the space. Even if it’s just a pot of basil on the windowsill, let them help water and nurture the plant.
- Reuse their artwork as wrapping paper or use what’s on hand, like newspaper.
What else do you practice in your home to educate kids to be green?
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About Emily Roach
Emily Roach is a culinary nutrition expert and works with clients to create a healthy lifestyle design. She loves teaching her kids how to cook, playing tennis and inspiring women to take control of their health. Emily does one-on-one consulting, cooking workshops and speaking engagements.