Raising environmentally friendly kids - tips for life at home
I know here in New Zealand a lot of children are being taught the importance of looking after our environment and are learning ways in which they can do things in a more sustainable way. This is fantastic, however it’s so important that we as parents reinforce these ideas in our everyday lives.
Below are some ideas and behaviors you can change at home to ensure the future of our world is in good hands.
Life at home
There are so many things that your kids can start practicing now to ensure a brighter and more sustainable future.
One area a lot of schools are focusing on is rubbish and are encouraging children to reduce their lunchbox rubbish. If any rubbish is leftover, teachers are encouraging children to take it home with them and recycle it appropriately. There are so many individual compartment lunchboxes on the market now which allow parents to create a rubbish free lunch. Next time you go shopping, take the kids with you and look at the way food is packaged. Look at buying products that are packaged in material that is recyclable. Also, when it comes to purchasing food for their lunch, choose bulk packets over small individual packaged items. Things like chippies don’t need their own bag. Maybe look at removing muesli bars and individually packaged snack food and replace this with things like cheese and crackers, nuts and raisins, yoghurt or carrots and hummus. These snack foods can be placed in reusable containers or straight into a lunchbox compartment.
And, when it comes time to pay for things at the checkout, say no to plastic bags. Even if you have forgotten your reusable bags, get the kids to pack the items straight back into your trolley and try using an empty laundry basket to transfer the groceries to the kitchen.
Make sure your kids have a basic understanding of how electricity is produced. Let them know about the impact it has on our environment. Try Using Analogies like “Wasting the Earth’s resources too quickly is like spending all your piggy bank money before allowance day” Why not arrange to have one candlelit dinner every week as a family or install a waterproof timer in the shower and set a challenge for the kids to see who can have the fastest shower. Start reinforcing the idea of turning off the lights when you leave a room as well…plus you’ll save on your power bill too!
So much food today is wasted and ends up in our landfill. Although food is considered to decompose naturally, did you know the chemicals from other waste can sometimes stop this process from happening. I remember being told it’s sometimes better to chuck your apple core out the window than it is to save it and put it in the bin later! Why not build a compost bin with your kids at home and teach them to separate the food waste from other waste. There are lots of DIY compost bins that can be created simply and inexpensively, plus you can then use the compost to help plants thrive in the garden!
Recycle, re-use and reduce
Recycling needs to become second nature for our kids. Have a chat to them about what the numbers mean on the bottom of our plastics and teach them about which plastics can be recycled and which can’t. Make sure you have separate bins for recycling products like plastic, paper and glass and encourage them to sort their rubbish/recycling before putting it in the bin. If a recycling bin isn’t nearby, hold onto it and dispose of it when you can using a recycling bin.
Electric cars are slowly making their way into the transportation industry; however the technology has a long way to go before everyone will be convinced. Raise some questions with your kids about what they think causes pollution in our air. Ask them whether they think transport pollutes? Some children may not even realize the harmful effects our cars and transport have on the environment. Next time your following a smelly car, point out to them how much cars are polluting, now times that by millions and millions!
Look for chances to reduce emissions (and your stress levels) by taking car-free trips whenever you can. Biking, walking and riding public transportation can give your family some exercise and make traveling a lot more fun, too. City dwellers should find this easy, but even if you live out in the suburbs, we bet you have a park, cafe or friend’s house within pedalling distance.
It’s so important to chat with your kids, but don’t let these conversations turn into one-sided lectures. Encourage your children to participate and form their own opinions by asking them to weigh in on topics like which environmentally friendly behaviours your family should practice. Research shows that when kids engage in back-and-forth dialogue, they develop a much stronger and longer-lasting commitment to the cause.
Make sure you check out what hotmilk are doing to reduce their footprint on the environment.
Our fingers and toes are crossed for a much cleaner and sustainable environment in the future!