Just as we all strive to make the world a better place for our children and grandchildren, part of that is making sure our children are developing habits that are good for the environment.
Here are 5 fun green living tips to get your kiddos started:
1. Collect rainwater with your kids.
Collecting rainwater is not only beneficial but makes for some wonderful teachable moments with your children. Talk to them about the water cycle and the importance of keeping our fresh water clean. You can get a rain barrel from your local hardware store or, the next time it rains, have your kiddos run out and place buckets or similar containers outside to collect the rain. When the rain in done, use the water for your household plants.
Many local communities offer how-to class on constructing your own rain barrels. Check with your city to see if that is available in your area.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have teamed up to create an adorable water-cycle diagram. You can even print it out. You’ll find it at http://water.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle-kids.html.
2. Garden with your kids.
Whether you’re gardening in the backyard, on a balcony or indoors, kids love to watch something they’ve planted grow into a plant. Better yet, into a plant that they can eat. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about healthy soil and how what is in the soil ends up in our bodies. Also, it’s a great way to get them to try vegetables they maybe won’t try before. We had the wonderful opportunity to be involved with a community garden for a number of seasons and it really changed the way my daughters think about food and where their food is coming from. It was a joy to participate with all the different families and share recipes, gardening tips and so on. I highly recommend joining or, if possible, starting your own community garden.
To find a community garden in your area, visit https://communitygarden.org/find-a-garden/.
3. Get your kids outside every day.
There are so many reasons to get your kids outside on a daily basis like, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), outdoor play builds healthy bodies, raises levels of Vitamin D and “improves distance vision and lowers the chance of nearsightedness.” Need more reasons? Check out the NWF’s article at http://www.nwf.org/What-We-Do/Kids-and-Nature/Why-Get-Kids-Outside/Health-Benefits.aspx.
Getting your kids outdoors and connecting with nature gives them a lifelong appreciation of our planet and puts them on the road to being good stewards of it. My girls keep nature journals and in them they write stories about natures, draw pictures and keep pressed flowers and dragonfly wings (just to name a few of the natural keepsakes they have in their journals). This gives them another way to really appreciate their natural world and its beauty.
To find some great outside activities to do with your kiddos, visit http://www.nwf.org/kids.aspx.
4. Clean up a local park or playground with your kids.
If you notice your local park has become a dumping ground for litter, grab some gloves and garbage bags and make it a family clean up game. See how fast you can clean up and then have some fun playing with your kids in your newly cleaned up play area. This is a great way to teach children about civic responsibility and talk about why littering is bad for the community and for the environment.
Keep America Beautiful has a lot of resources and information about litter, visit them at https://www.kab.org/.
Here are some fun learning tools for kids from Scholastic at http://www.scholastic.com/kab/.
5. Repurpose or upcycle something with your kids.
You could make recycled journals (maybe a nature journal) with paperboard and other items from your recycling bin. You could make crafts with clothing you’re getting rid of, the possibilities are endless.
Check out these upcycling ideas all from one pair of jeans, https://recyclenation.com/2015/05/5-upcycle-ideas-for-summer-style.
Here is another site full of upcycling ideas and inspiration at http://www.upcyclethat.com/.
Bonus tip: Watch The Story of Stuff with your kids and talk about how we can all do a better job of keeping trash out of our landfills.