Earth Day has been around for more than 40 years, and during that time, it has inspired millions of people to increase their awareness of, and their appreciation for, the environment. Since the dawn of the twenty-first century, people increasingly have adopted eco-friendly lifestyles and attitudes, and the continued embrace of environmentally friendly practices and principles has made the struggles of Earth Day pioneers, like former United States Senator Gaylord Nelson, more than worth it.
Nowadays, children grow up learning about the environment in school and at home. For example, many households participate in their community's recycling programs, and such households are raising eco-conscious children, perhaps without even recognizing they're doing so.
While a transition to a more eco-conscious lifestyle might not be seamless, it's far easier than many might suspect and even easier for kids who have yet to develop a lifetime of habits that might not be so eco-friendly. With Earth Day on the horizon, the following are a few ways parents can get their kids involved in activities or lifestyles that benefit the environment.
Address Eating Habits
Over the last several years, the opportunities to eat in an eco-friendly manner have increased dramatically. Organic foods have grown more and more popular, and parents can use this growing trend to teach their kids about the environment. When shopping for groceries, choose organic products that weren't grown with pesticides or harmful chemicals and explain this difference to kids.
Shopping locally provides another opportunity for parents to involve food when teaching kids about the environment. Explain to kids that shopping locally reduces reliance on fuel because products don't need to be shipped, be it through the air or on the ground, to your community, minimizing fuel consumption.
Teach Conservation Techniques
Conservation provides another easy opportunity for parents to instill eco-friendly ideals in their children. Conservation is about reducing waste, so conservation techniques don't involve sacrifice. Instead, they involve being more responsible when it comes to using our resources.
Parents know full well the constant reminders kids need when it comes to dental hygiene. But use these daily reminders about brushing and flossing as an opportunity to impart a lesson about the environment. Instead of keeping the faucet running while brushing your teeth, turn the faucet off and encourage kids to do the same. When they ask why, explain that this helps conserve water, and show them how it's just as easy and effective to clean teeth without the water running as it is when the faucet is on. This teaches kids that conservation is simple and often just requires minimal effort to make a big difference.
There are additional lessons about conservation that parents can impart. For instance, when grocery shopping, always make a list before leaving the house and explain to kids that you do this so you don't have to make two trips to the store and waste the gas that the second trip would require. In addition, encourage kids to turn the lights off when they leave a room to better conserve energy.
Purchase Recycled Products
Recycling is a practice that many of today's kids grew up with, and as a result, many of them might take it for granted, failing to fully realize the positive impact they're making whenever they recycle. If recycling is as natural to kids as breathing, then it's no surprise they might not recognize its impact.
One way parents can address this issue is to purchase products made from recycled materials. A host of products are made from recycled materials, from the paper you put in the printer to the toys under the tree on Christmas morning. Explain to kids why you're choosing these products, and let them know such products wouldn't be possible without their own recycling efforts.
Another way to help kids realize the value of recycling is to make crafts from recycled products. For instance, make a papier mache globe to celebrate Earth Day by using old newspapers as your primary material. Such lessons show kids their efforts make an impact and increase the likelihood they'll continue this eco-friendly lifestyle well into adulthood.