If your home as a child was like mine, you grew up in a fairly wasteful household. There was no mention of recycling in my house until I was in my late teens. We drove everywhere we could with no consideration of saving gas. My parents told me to turn the lights off – not to save energy but to keep the utility bill down. The list goes on and on. If your house was a polar opposite of eco-friendly like mine was, our parents really weren’t to blame. It was a different time we lived, and thankfully we now know better. But with this knowledge that we as parents have now, we also have the task of teaching our kids how to conserve the resources we have and to lead a greener lifestyle.
Here are some great ideas for teaching your kids to be eco-friendly and conserve resources:
In The Bathroom. Water is among the most abundant resources on the planet, but with an ever-increasing human population and a limited amount of potable water available, conserving water is vital. The bathroom presents a great opportunity for conserving water. Teach your kids to turn off the water when they brush their teeth. You can also encourage kids to take short showers rather than filling tub full of water for a bath. Make their shower time a fun game by setting a timer for five minutes and seeing if they can get suitable clean before the timer goes off.
Lights Off. Most kids are bad about turning the lights off. Leaving the lights on when they aren’t needed certainly will result in a higher utility bill, as your parents inevitably told you as a child. But leaving lights on is also like throwing valuable energy away. You can follow the wisdom of your parents and encourage kids to turn the lights off with a fun money game. Give your kids $10 in ones in an envelope, and tell them you will take away $1 for each time you catch them leaving a light on that is not being used. Set this little contest to run for a certain amount of time – say, a day or a week. When the specified time is over, give your children the money in the envelope. Chances are, the first time or two you run this contest, you will be taking back more dollars than you are giving to your kids. But if you repeat the contest a few times, the concept will sink into their heads. This contest works well to make kids aware of turning the lights off, rather than mindlessly leaving the room without thinking about lights.
Eat Green. Food waste is a big issue. Even when you buy organic foods that were grown or made close to home (and especially if you don’t buy local and organic) there is a certain amount of energy and waste associated with growing, making, and transporting that food. When you go out to eat at restaurants, think about the food you are leaving on your plate. Restaurants are notorious for giving large portion sizes, so take some of that food home to eat later rather than throw it away. Avoid fast food restaurants when possible. If you’re wondering about this suggestion, consider the paper bags, wrappers, drink cups, straws, napkins, and other waste you are throwing away. This doesn’t even consider the (mostly) very unnatural, unhealthy food that is served at fast food restaurants. And when you eat at home, be sure to buy organic, locally grown food when possible. Getting kids interested in this topic can be tricky, but as a first step, you can make it a game for them by having them look for where foods were made or grown when you are buying groceries. See if they can find food grown or made in your state.
These are just a few of the many ways you can teach your kids how to conserve resources. These tips will get your kids well on their way to thinking about where things come from and how they are using them instead of becoming mindless consumers. And when they are aware of where their resources come from and how they are using these resources, they will be well on their way to leading greener lives.