Making changes in your lifestyle to reduce environmental impact is essential for preserving the planet. So is passing these skills on to the next generation. If your children develop earth friendly habits in childhood and really learn to appreciate the importance of going green, then they are likely to continue these habits throughout their lifetime. To that end, here are some strategies for teaching your children about green living.
Take them shopping, and explain your purchasing decisions.
Make grocery shopping an educational experience. Bring your kids along, and as you select various items off the shelf, describe to your child why you are choosing certain items over others. For instance, you could say things like, "We're buying this brand because it has less plastic packaging, so there won't be so much to throw away." Or, "We'll buy this shampoo because it's made with ingredients that don't hurt fish."
After a few shopping excursions, start letting your kids play more of an active role in choosing green products. Let them read labels and compare brands, offering guidance as needed.
Talk about energy use and where energy comes from.
When you turn up the heat, seize the opportunity to tell your child about how the heat is made by burning gas. Explain that there's only so much gas on the earth, and that burning it's not really good for the planet -- and that's why you try to not use more than you need. Have similar discussions about where electricity to power light bulbs comes from, and how the water that comes out of your tap is cleaned. Make sure your child understands that these utilities are not "just magic."
Enjoy "green" activities as a family.
Walk to the store and enjoy the scenery rather than driving. Visit the market and purchase local, organic produce, or shop at a thrift store instead of the mall. As you're engaging in these activities, have family discussions about why they're good for the planet. Challenge your kids to come up with new, earth friendly activities for you to do as a family.
Children learn by example, so in addition to following the tips above, make sure you're doing everything you can to live in an earth friendly manner. They'll observe and mimic your actions. For more tips on going green at home, visit our post "Going Green: 5 Ways to Start Today."