Today is Earth Day and it’s the perfect time to teach children how to appreciate our planet, explore nature and learn about ways to protect it. The most effective way to teach our children to live a green lifestyle –with consideration for the environment including the air, land, water, animals and all the people we share the world with – is to show them through example in our own homes.
As a family, we are always working to live a more eco-friendly life.Our family plan isn’t complicated, it’s actually pretty simple.We follow the popular mantra of “reduce, reuse & recycle.”Learning how to reduce, reuse and recycle not only helps the environment by reducing waste, saving energy and natural resources, but it also helps us as a family save some money.
Here’s just some of ways we do it:
REDUCE –The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place!
Everyone in the family, including our pooch Bailey, has their own water bottle. We take them with us on any family outing. We fill them up with water before we leave the house and take advantage of water-fountains we encounter along our way (you’d be surprised how many there are – in malls, stores & public parks!). This cuts down our use of throwaway water/juice/soda bottles or paper cups and we’re not plunking down money every time we are thirsty.
Our kidlets love to color, but it can literally waste a ton of paper. On a daily basis they excitedly show us some new amazing drawing they’ve created. Instead of them running to get a new piece of paper after they’ve created their latest masterpiece, when they ask us for another piece of paper, we tell them to turn the paper over for a new blank canvas. This drastically reduces the amount of paper we use in the house.
REUSE — Making a new product requires a lot of materials and energy: raw materials must be extracted from the earth, and the product must be fabricated and then transported to wherever it will be sold.
Did you know that plastic bags start out as crude oil, natural gas or some other sort of petrochemical derivate? Plastic bags have inundated our planet. They strangle wildlife and litter our rivers and streams. The sad part is that plastic bags will never ever completely break down.
We always keep a stash of sturdy cloth reusable bags in our car. We use them when we go shopping, whether it’s to the grocery store, farmers market or our local flea market. Cloth bags can be reused thousands of times, which more than justifies the bag’s initial cost. We’ve gotten most of our bags gratis –some of them are from businesses we regularly patronize, others from various street fairs we’ve attended and some even came as part of a birthday gift (instead of using wrapping paper) the kidlets received. You can keep them clean by tossing bags that are 100% cotton into the wash or use a sponge, along with soap and water, to spot clean canvas or composite ones.
Instead of throwing away our biodegradable food scraps and yard waste, The Hubs started a compost bin in the corner of our yard. The kidets take turns carrying out our little compost bucket of scraps (we keep our under the kitchen sink) which includes vegetable and fruit remnants as well as used coffee grounds. The kidlets help dad dump everything into the bin, spread it out evenly with their kiddie shovels and then wet it down with the hose. The scraps and yard waste break down over time and what you’re left with is a compost which is rich with natural nutrients. We finally have enough compost this year to use in our vegetable garden.
RECYCLE — Recycling is the process of collecting and re-processing of materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash, and turning them into new products. Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators and conserves natural resources.
We have the kidlets help us sort our paper, plastic and aluminum products. They break down boxes and help us rinse out bottles, cans and jars. Since our kidlets like having “jobs,” they happily help mom or dad carry out the recyclables to our pretty blue bins in our backyard.
Now it’s your turn to share. What do you do to live a more green lifestyle?
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