Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Being Eco-friendly might be "in" and might be vital - but without the next generation adopting behavioral changes ..all this good green talk will mean nothing. Our children will ultimately decide the viability of our good intention. There are several things that we as parents (or other relatives or educators) can do to foster this. Here are a few simple tips to help the little global citizens get earth friendly.
The obvious recycling ideas should be fostered - separate your plastics, from paper, glass, and food. Help your kids understand that everything that is used has to go to somewhere - and the earth friendly options. But take recycling to another level. Help your child understand that more "stuff" is not the better alternative - instead sometimes using existing toys, books, art supplies etc in new ways. Teaching a child to see new possibilities in existent materials not only helps them get more earth friendly but fosters a general sense of creative thinking.
Stubs of crayons can be melted in minutes on wax paper in any oven creating cool new combinations of colors. Broken off wheels of cars, or old plastic toys can be used with clay to create outrageous and avante garde sculptures. Or if you run out of ideas, teach your kids the concept of donating to those more in need - help them gather their donated goods and take them to a shelter or a school in need. Although less "things" is always a better solution - the life of existent stuff can certainly be extended and recycled in innovative ways.
Conserving Resources Made Easy:
Simple habits like teaching your kids to not run the water as they brush their teeth and to shut off the lights as they leave a room is an easy and simple means by which to make a difference. Turn that pesky TV habit into less of a battle by telling your kids that shuting off the TV for one less hour a day - does in fact impact the world (not just the concerned mom). Take that to the next level and show your kids that driving a car can (and in most cases today does) require gas. Explain to your kids why an extra trip has environmental costs that might outweigh the benefit of getting gum, or some other item that they can do without. Combine local trips and get as much done in each stop as possible and explain to your kids the reasoning.
Conscious Consumerism for the Kids:
Turn shopping trips into educational opportunities. Explain to your kids the reason to buy organic, from the health benefits to the environmental impacts. Help them understand that a simple choice such as organic (or buying local) makes a really big difference. Help your kids read labels, teach them to look for symbols of recycled materials and/or products that donate to environmental (or other) charitable causes. Explaining to your kids the impact of a purchase helps them learn how to be mindful citizens in a consumer world.
Living With Nature:
There is no more powerful way to foster a love of nature, and the earth, then by actually spending time in it. Unplug and unwind doing things outdoors. Cold winter snowy days, spring showers, summer heat are all brilliant backdrops to simple activities like long walks and good talks with mom or dad, gardening, leaf collecting, or more elaborate activities like mountain hikes or sailing. Depending on where you are and what the climate is, you can always find an abundance of activities that will help your child discover the beauty and splendor of the great outdoors.
Mindful Game Alternatives:
Today there is no shortage of games that teach kids everything from solar power to sustainable building. From video games to board games, to books and music - creatives in all fields are developing products tailoring to the young. Sites such as www.gigglefishgifts.com and countless others online offer an abundant selection. When buying new entertainment for the young, look into option that offer fun and education.
Do your best to remind your kids of the opportunities they have every day to impact the world in a positive way. Its easy for kids to feel "small" in a big world, with big people, and big issues. Empowering your kids by teaching them how they can influence the world is not only infinitely beneficial to the child's development but to the world which is their home.