Going green is a way of living, and that means it must include your kids, too. Regardless of their age, your children can start learning what it means to live a healthier, more natural and environmentally friendly lifestyle.by: iVillage.com
We’ve broken down the top ways to get your kids involved in the process. Chances are, they’ll be having so much fun they won’t even realize they’re learning. Plus, if you start instilling green values in your kids now, the more likely they are to continue a healthier lifestyle into adulthood. From preschoolers to college-bound kids, get tips on how to go green together today:
- Kids in Preschool
- Kids in Grades 1 – 3
- Kids in Grades 4 – 6
- Kids in Grades 7 – 8
- Kids in High School
- More Ways to Go Green
- Water: Teach them to keep the water flow to a pencil-thin stream when using the sink.
- Energy: Tell them to turn off the lights when leaving a room and to leave the lights off during the day. Natural sunlight is generally good enough.
- Toxic Exposure: Cleaning up messy little hands? Be sure to avoid anti-bacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers that contain triethanolamine. Anti-bacterial hand soaps have been proven to cause more harm than good because they kill beneficial bacteria as well as the bad stuff and may be leading to super-strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Hand sanitizers that contain the ingredient triethanolamine can damage liver and kidneys.
- Waste: Recycle newspapers, magazines and junk mail. You can present it as a game that involves sorting out the different types and putting them in their special bins for points. Assign a daily chore to help with the sorting and recycling.
- Food: Teach your preschooler how to help pick out ripe seasonal fruit and vegetables for their snacks and meals. Show them that when they have finished their fruit and vegetables, there are parts that can be composted. Involve your children in composting your food scraps, coffee grounds, etc. Get them used to seeing that food waste is not garbage but rather something that can be turned into soil to grow more food.
- Transportation: Walk whenever possible. Plan out your weekly menu and shopping needs, and go to the store once to cut back on multiple trips.
- Water: Besides teaching your child dental hygiene, remind them to turn off the water while brushing their teeth.
- Energy: Make it a rule to unplug the TV and turn off the computer at night.
- Toxic Exposure: Harsh chemicals aren’t the only way to rid your child’s head of lice if they happen to catch the buggers. Greener solutions include smothering the pests with mayonnaise or Vaseline under a shower cap before bedtime and then washing hair thoroughly in the morning. Alternatively, you can brush through the hair with an all-natural conditioner and a fine-tooth comb. It may take a few applications.
- Waste: Play a more advanced recycling game and have kids guess what can and cannot be recycled. Challenge them with the following stumpers:
- Question: Pizza box with grease on it?
Answer: No, because the grease disrupts the recycling process. The clean top, however, can be torn off and recycled.
- Question: Milk carton?
Answer: No because the wax coating keeps it from by recyclable.
- Question: Coffee Cup?
Answer: No because the inside is coated in petroleum wax and the lid is not a type of plastic that can be recycled.
- Question: Metal bottle caps?
- Question: Pet food cans (aluminum or steel)?
- Question: Detergent containers (HDPE #2)?
- Question: Bubble wrap envelopes?
- Question: Enveloples with labels?
- Question: Post-It notes?
- Food: Pack sandwiches, fruits, veggies and treats in reusable food containers.
- Transportation:Have kids take the bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
- Water: Teach kids to wash fruits and veggies in a bowl to conserve water.
- Energy: Instead of using the AC or heater, teach kids to put on a sweater or hat when they are cold or to open a window on each side of the house when they are hot.
- Toxic Exposure: Make sure children know that they should never microwave plastic or Styrofoam.
- Waste: Make notebooks out of cereal box covers and fill with three-hole punched recycled paper. It’s simple: Have your kids save their favorite cereal boxes and cut out the front cover a little larger than 8 1/2 x 11. Collect 50 sheets of paper already printed on one side; flip the stack over and punch holes in the entire stack. Slip metal rings through the holes to hold it all together.
- Food: Enlist kids to help in the garden and give them their own plants to nurture. You can have them help with weeding, but you can also bring them in at the beginning of the process. Start with sunflowers, carrots and pole beans. Check out Kidsgardening.com for more ideas.
- Transportation: Carpool to activities. Check with your child’s daycare or school teacher to find out if other kids live nearby and plan carpools to school and other activities.
- Water: Teach kids how to wash dishes properly. By hand, use a basin and only a pencil-thin stream of water. By machine, scrape dishes off but do not rinse with water.
- Energy: Make sure they don’t keep the refrigerator door open for too long.
- Toxic Exposure: Allow them to use only non-toxic, recycled permanent markers. Find more green school supplies at Greenhome.com.
- Waste: Fix something before buying a new one. If your child’s backpack gets a rip or needs a new zipper, check to see if the manufacturer will fix it for free or take it to a local repair shop.
- Food: Focus on healthy choices, and let your children help with the shopping and meal preparation. Introduce them to new foods and explore the advantages of organic food together.
- Transportation: Have your kids use a push mower instead of a gas mower and leave the grass cuttings on the lawn as natural fertilizer.
- Water: Do a beach, river, waterway or park clean-up with your kids each year.
- Energy: Encourage them to unplug their MP3, phone and camera chargers when not in use.
- Toxic Exposure: Wash your pet with organic shampoo, and keep fleas at bay with non-toxic remedies. Try one of the following:
- Diatomaceous Earth (DE). Sprinkle this powder on your pet and the house. It kills fleas by dehydrating them. Use a mask and vacuum the house after four days. Find more solutions at Care2.com.
- Vinegar. Mix 1 teaspoon of vinegar with 1 quart water (per 40 pounds of pet weight). Add to your pet’s drinking water.
- Spread leaves or shavings of eucalyptus, fennel, rosemary, red cedar, sassafras or pennyroyal under and around your pet’s bed.
- Waste:Take a field trip to a landfill to understand there is no “away” in “throwing things away.” This is when we have the opportunity to teach the importance of recycling and reusing.
- Food: Give your high-schooler shopping responsibilities: Take them with you to the local farmer’s market and have them develop a shopping list that focuses on balanced, healthy meals using organic, local produce.
- Transportation:Teach your kids to consider their transportation options. Encourage walking, riding bikes and using public transportation. If they need to drive and have a car, encourage them to carpool with friends, and teach them to properly care for their car. Plus, make sure they know the rules to live by: Regularly change the air and oil filter, keep tires inflated, don’t top off, don’t be a lead foot, reduce drag on the vehicle, keep the car free from extra weight and don’t idle the car when waiting for longer than 30 seconds.