Do you ever wonder what the phrase, “going green” really means? This movement, if you want to call it – began over a decade ago when people started to really open up their eyes and notice that our environment is alarmingly in danger. While our planet slowly deteriorating is certainly not new news, the harmful effects of long-term damage has increased drastically over the years.
As a parent and an educator, I want to teach my son and other students the importance of preserving our precious planet. A small impact of good can slowly grow to something bigger and better: one child can make a difference and one adult can help them achieve their goals. And while you’re reading this, let’s break it down to the importance of teaching our children to being “green” and allow them to make a better world for the future.
So how do you “Go Green”? With climate changes negatively affecting the world, greenhouse gases are increasing around the world, making it almost near impossible to reverse the damages. But global markets in major consumer industries are finally starting to recognize the dangers of our depleting environment and are moving towards natural resource energy makers such as wind, solar, and water. We, as individuals may think we can’t do much to improve our environment, but all it takes is one person to care, to make a change for the better.
So how do we teach our children to protect the future of their planet? We must start by realizing that children have the potential to make positive changes in the world. “We must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” – Mary McLeod Bethune. Children have the drive, intelligence, and ability to make positive impacts in improving our planet and being great leaders of society. Children around the world are taking winning steps in reducing waste while not only helping the environment, but other people as well. Their leadership and compassion are things we want to emulate and encourage so that we can all eventually open our eyes to the climate changes around us.
What can kids do? Here are some great (and easy) examples of environmentally-friendly acts and projects for kids of any age:
– Follow the 4 R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, Recycle.
Reduce your purchases, wants, and needs. The less we buy, the less carbon footprint we contribute to.
Reuse what you already have. If we can reuse even just 3 times, we will already have made a dramatic change.
Repurpose what you can still reuse. Repurposing is truly a great trend that should go on forever. For example, you can take a pair of torn jeans and make it into a unique grocery tote* or zippered pencil cases.
Recycling is typically the last resort as not everything can be recycled. Most plastics, glass, aluminum are readily recyclable but it still takes up carbon footprint when machines are used to break down these materials. Still, it’s better than throwing them in the trash where they’ll most likely end up in the landfill. To find recycling centers in your area, check it out here: https://americarecyclesday.org/find-recycling/
– Sort trash properly.
One of the biggest problems with overflowing landfills is trash that aren’t sorted properly. You can probably find at least 30% of your trash that can be recycled, reused, or repurposed. And if you can recycle any kind of beverage bottles, your kids can make money from doing that too. When recyclable products are mixed in with trash, it takes tremendous time, money, and effort for facilities to sort them. Oftentimes, the recyclable items will end up with the rest of the trash, thus leading to the growing problem of overfilled landfills in our country.
– Use reusable containers whenever possible.
Kids can bring their school lunches in resuable lunch containers, water bottles, and utensils. To make it even more fun, give them colorful and fun reusable napkins. Great ones can be found at: http://www.ukonserve.com/ and https://ecolunchboxes.com/.
– Pick up trash.
Pick up trash around your neighborhood as you’re taking walks along the roads. This helps keep waste from going into storm drains and ending up in unlikely places where they might just get disposed of improperly. Plus, it helps the neighborhood look nice and clean too. Just remember to have kids wear gloves if they’re doing a “clean up the neighborhood day”. Then, be sure to sort and dispose the trash properly.
– Eat local, co-op, and organically grown food.
Local foods are usually produced by companies within your county or city’s range. This is a rather tricky range as there is currently no guidelines to how far or close a product is produced in order to qualify as local. Read labels on products and check out the local companies you buy from to get a clearer picture. Co-op farms help the farmers and the consumers. Co-op is governed by its members so there is more control of what is produced, how it’s produced, and where it’s sold. Organically grown food must follow strict guidelines that companies must follow in order to be certified. Organic products simply means any product made without certain fertilizers and pesticides and without any synthetic ingredients used in producing the products. This applies to both food and non-food items. Take your kids to local farmers markets and grocery stores where they can see and feel the difference between organic produce and conventional produce. When you make the change yourself, your kids can greatly benefit from it.
– Reduce use of electronics and water.
In a perfect world, we’d have less electronics to use and we could all produce our own water usage and recycle it. But in this day and age of fast growing technology, it seems that the future will only continue with this trend. While technology is important, using too much of it can also drain our natural resources as well as enable harmful aftereffects of radiation and coal. Remind your children to turn off lights when not in use, reduce their screen time by playing outside or reading a book, and turn off the water when brushing their teeth.
We can all strive to make a better impact on our environment if we remind ourselves that our children, their children, and all future generations should have the ability to live on a clean and healthy planet. It can take small and simple steps but each step can lead to bigger steps that can make a dramatic improvement for our world.
For some fun and helpful tips for parents and kids, check out PBS Kids Green project book: http://meetthegreens.pbskids.org/features/pdf/Greens_Activities.pdf.
*photo source: www.denimdoover.com
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