Going green is a hot topic these days and many parents are searching for ways to educate kids about how to contribute. Of course, we’ve all heard about the three R’s by now–reduce, reuse, recycle (in case you were living in a distant galaxy or hiding under a rock for the past decade). Simply put, this means we all must use resources wisely, either by not creating more garbage in the first place, or by finding other uses for things that might otherwise be thrown away. Translated into kidspeak, this goes something like: taking care of the Earth is everyone’s job, and you can help, too.
There’s no better place to start than right in your very own home. Here are some tips to go green one room at a time:
The kitchen is everyone’s favorite room in the house, and also the source of the most waste. The greatest amount of waste most families generate comes from packaging, which adds up to a heck of a lot of…cardboard. The main idea here is to keep things out of the trash, either by reusing or recycling.
• First, have kids help you sort recyclables by type; i.e., glass, paper, cardboard, plastic.
• Look through each pile and discuss other uses for some of the items. A glass jar can get new life as a pen and pencil holder. Plastic bottles can become bird feeders.
• Cardboard boxes make great homes for stuffed animals, or use then as building blocks. For a special project to encourage reading, have your child choose one box that is large enough to hold library books, then paint and decorate it and put it in a designated spot–library books will never get misplaced again!
The living room often holds the greatest source of entertainment for today’s kids: the television and video games. However, there are a number of equally attractive green options. Keep track of each time your children choose a green option, and give a reward of your choice (green, of course!) after they “go green” twenty times. Instead of reaching for the remote, offer the following choices:
• Read, draw or play board games.
• Create an exercise training circuit (i.e. 4-5 stations with a different exercise at each).
• Play outside.
The bathroom is another place where kids can really contribute to living green:
• Take showers instead of baths. It’s the easiest way to use less water.
• Buy a toothbrush with replaceable heads. There’s less to throw away.
• An empty dental floss container is a perfect place to safeguard lost teeth for the tooth fairy. (Be sure to decorate it!).
There are a few general rules that apply to the whole house. They are straightforward and easy to follow, no matter what age the kids are:
• Lights out! Turn them off whenever there is no one on the room.
• Wear sleeves! Long sleeves and/or a sweater are the green way to stay warm while keeping your thermostat low. Socks and slippers make a big difference, too.
Green living doesn’t stop when you walk out the front door, either. It’s something you can practice wherever you go:
• Walk and roll as often as possible. Opt out of using the car for short trips and walk, ride, scoot, skip, or skate to your destination. It’s just as good for you as it is for the planet.
• Water from a reuseable water bottle is the drink of choice for green thinkers. Choose good old H2O instead of juice boxes or sodas.
• I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream–on a cone instead of the dish served with a non-biodegradable plastic spoon.
Often the largest contributing factor to living green is using your thinking cap and giving careful consideration on how to keep the Earth healthy with green choices. Putting large concepts into simple practices kids can understand makes them educated and willing participants, and they do love to help!
[author] [author_info]About the Author
Grier Cooper is a freelance writer, photographer, and mother. Her understanding of the three R’s is far outweighed by that of her seven-year-old, who constantly finds new uses for almost every item that hits the recycling bin. She blogs about dance for children and adults at: http://www.griercooper.com.