I think we all agree it is now more important than ever to protect our environment and our children are never too young to start. Often it is easier to start new habits as a family and teach our kids by doing things together so here are 7 ways to start your family on the eco friendly path.
Immerse your family in nature.
- The first step is instilling a love for the Earth in your children. Take them for hikes, long walks on the beach, picnics in the park, or swimming in the ocean. Show them wild animals in their natural habitat and point out marine life and healthy coral reefs. We want to make our children love nature and understand what they are protecting. Later it will be easier to explain that they should reduce plastic waste so it does not hurt the fish they swam with in the sea.
Show them the effects it has on the environment.
- Read magazine articles, watch documentaries, and find books that show the detrimental affect humans are having on the environment. Explain global warming and talk about trash in the ocean. Show them the marine life that are injured or the forest fires that are happening in the world. A simple cause and effect can show children why we need to make a difference. Education is key when learning why and how we can help the planet.
Prep them with their own eco friendly tools.
- Buy them a reusable water bottle with their favourite character, let them decorate their own canvas shopping bag, let them pick out their own reusable straw and utensils. Allow your children to have their own personal items that make them excited about being eco-friendly. They will now feel more inclined to use reusables than plastic options if they love their own set and are eager to incorporate them in their daily life.
Point out environmentally friendly practices.
- Teach your kids how to recycle and explain to them about where plastic and trash ends up. Join a beach clean-up event or bring your own lunch box when getting take out. Whether it's as big as growing your own food or as simple as bringing a coffee cup to the cafe, talk about what you are doing and why. These practices may seem foreign at first, but speaking about it will help your child understand how to find ways to help in their own everyday life.
Take them to bulk buy stores
- Educate your family about the plastic waste in supermarkets and start shopping at farmers markets and bulk buy stores. Show them how to bring their own refillable containers and produce bags. These are practices that they can learn now and will hopefully use as adults or when they start doing their own shopping.
Teach about waste and minimalism
- Talk about where things such as old toys or clothes go when we throw them in the trash. Donate clothes and toys as a family to those in need and veer away from buying in excess. Declutter your home together and attempt to only buy what your really need. Allow your children to earn rewards in order to get certain toys or material items, so they understand the value and aren't eager to throw it away after only a few weeks. A minimal household is not only budget friendly but healthy for the mind and planet.
Talk about where your food comes from.
- Make visits to the local farms or take them fishing on the lake. Pick your own fruit at the local strawberry patch or start a herb and vegetable garden in your backyard. Talk about imported food and the carbon footprint mass-produced meat has on the environment. You don't have to become a vegetarian but let your children decide with the information they are given. Shop local and talk about sustainable farming so you as a family can understand the impact your meals have on the environment and make better decisions together.
Calculate your carbon footprint and find ways to offset it as a family.
- Check out www.carbonfootprint.com and calculate your family's carbon footprint. Find ways you can offset it either online or as a family. Plant trees, reduce water waste, walk more, turn off the electricity for a few hours a day, or partake in Meatless Monday. Each family member can choose one way they can offset their carbon footprint that week.
Implement eco friendly practices in your everyday life.
None of us are perfect and can't be green 100% of the time but every little helps. As a family you can start small and build up with every month or even year. Little habits will become second nature and you will find it's time to build upon what you have already implemented. Don't set impossible goals. Reusable diapers are great for the environment but may be overwhelming for a first time mother. Try reusable but have disposable diapers on hand for emergencies or difficult days. You won't always remember your water bottle and sometimes your food isn't organic, but the little goals and triumphs you make each week still count. It's all about starting eco friendly habits and setting the example for our children along the way.