How to become an Eco Friendly Green Parent

Green is the new black. That is what many people are saying these days implying that the new fad, cool thing to do is ‘go green’. But what exactly does ‘going green’ mean and how can parents incorporate green habits into the lifestyles of their children

With an increase in concern for the environment, parents can use these easy tips to incorporate an awareness for the planet in their children. The biggest tip to remember is to make changes that fit your lifestyle. Your family is more likely to stick with the new habits if the changes work with everyone’s way of life. Start small and be proud of even the smallest efforts to improving our planet.

GREEN TIP #1: Embrace the Outdoors

One of the easiest ways to teach your children eco-friendly habits is to start by getting to know your environment better. Being outside and enjoying nature’s bounty is one of the easiest and most fun ways to explore your environment. Try starting a garden or planting a tree with your family and watching it grow. Showing your children how they can consume what they plant (ie fruits and vegetables) is fun way to teach them about resourcefulness. Another way to enjoy the outdoors is to take a hike, even if it is just around the neighborhood. Have the children look for new plants and animals and then discuss them along the way.

GREEN TIP #2: The 3 R’s- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

One of the biggest problems our world faces is the amount of waste created by each person. The US is one of the biggest contributors of this waste. However, we can teach our kids to utilize their materials and dispose of them properly to curb the effects of this problem. By only buying what you need and only using what you need, your family can reduce the amount of waste it creates. Consider buying in bulk for your family needs like toilet paper, paper towels, etc. Packaging materials usually end up in the landfills, so the more you can get in one package the less package materials that go to waste. Another tip is to teach your children how to reuse items around the house. An easy way to do this is by using reusable dishes rather than paper plates or reusing your bath towel instead of getting a new one each shower. Another option for reusing is teaching your child the gift of sharing by allowing them to donate old toys to kids who have none. This gives a hands on example of reusing that lets them be the ultimate decision maker. Finally, recycling is one of the best ways to teach a child how to help the environment. Most garbage services offer recycling and even provide the bins. Teach your child which items can be recycled and remind them to put them in the bin instead of the trash can. Fun posters or charts can be made to help the child remember.

GREEN TIP #3: Volunteer

One of the best ways to teach a child is through our own actions. Kids love helping out, so plan a family volunteer day where the family helps out in the community. Participating in a community clean up day or at an animal shelter helping the animals are both great ways to get your child thinking outside their own world and about how they can help their environment.

GREEN TIP #4: Learn By Visiting

Take a trip to a national park or conservation center and allow your children to learn from the visit. Getting to explore a different environment than their everyday surroundings, allows your children to appreciate the complexity of our eco-system. Consider a day at the library where they can study books and look at pictures of different animals, habitats and environments.

GREEN TIP #5: Understanding Your Food

People sometimes forget that what we eat is a direct result of our environment. So understanding where our food comes from and how it gets to our plate is a great way for your kids to learn about their environment. Teaching your kids about the food chain and process allows them to take more ownership in their eating choices. Also consider letting your children get involved with the cooking process. Making a salad from start to finish can be an educational experience.

GREEN TIP #6: Alternatives

Sometimes all the education in the world can’t help us unless we learn to apply it and find alternatives. Alternative is another one of those buzz words right now. Alternative fuels, Alternative cleaning products, Alternative everything. But it is always good to find more resourceful ways if possible. So below I have given a few alternatives that can get you started.

* Alternative to plastic bags-canvas or reusable store bags. Many stores are carrying them now.

* Alternative to chemical cleaners-vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice are three great natural cleaners.

* Alternative to gas fuel-This is a tough one. Hybrid cars can be expensive. But teaching your child about pollution is a step. Also, taking advantage of bikes and walking are ways your child can feel like they are contributing to cleaner air.

* Alternative to hormone filled and pesticide covered foods-grow your own. Organic is an option but not always an affordable one. Let your children take a shot at using their green thumb

These are just a few alternatives that can help get your family started. It isn’t impossible to be an eco-friendly parent. It just takes a desire to educate our children about what will ultimately be their earth. As humans, we do not own any part of this earth. We are simply caretakers. How we care for our planet now is ultimately what will decide how the earth will care for our children once we are gone. So a few small changes now can make a big difference in the future. Our kids want to help. They want to be a part of something bigger. So these tips are a starting place for any family wishing to do their part for the environment. Start small, and do what you can. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something! Peace!