Dear EarthTalk: What are some things that children and families can do to be greener (and to provide life lessons for the kids in the process)?
—Cynthia Mosher, via email
There are many ways to be green around the family that are sure to rub off on the littler ones in your midst—if they don’t beat you to it, that is.
With environmental awareness so widespread among younger people in our society, most kids have learned more about being green from their school teachers and camp counselors than we adults might have gleaned in a lifetime. For one, the environmental “Three R”s”—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle—are followed at many schools nowadays. But just because your kids might hear about it at school doesn’t mean that it is sinking in, and that’s where you come in. By reinforcing such messages at home and on outings—and leading by example—you can be certain that today’s “tweens will be tomorrow’s greens.
If you don’t know where to start, look for the metaphorical low-hanging fruit: recycling. Learn what types of items your city or town accepts for recycling and sort accordingly. Teach your kids what goes into the recycling bin, and put them in charge. In many locales, residents must pay for trash hauling but not for recyclables, so diverting more of your waste stream to recycling will also leave more money in your wallet for those outings to the ice cream truck and toy store. Also, raid your recycling bin when the kids want to make arts and crafts; reusing materials for creative endeavors is about as green as you can get.