Easy Ways for Kids to be Environmentalists

Growing up I didn’t truly understand the need to reduce and save. It wasn’t until many years later and living on my own that I realized being wasteful and careless of what I spent and purchased could affect my way of living. For instance, one could easily pick up takeout food ten times a week without thinking of the impact these take-outs could affect our bodies and our environment. Consider the plastic packaging, the miles driven just to get the food, or even leftover, uneaten food because in all seriousness, takeout food isn’t very well kept in the refrigerator.

As we’re approaching a new era of being more environmentally conscious, we’re beginning to see the detrimental effects of global warming and climate change. Unlike decades ago when it was perfectly normal to grow our own food or reuse our items many times until they get thrown away, our society slowly became a “throw away” society and a means for anything that is convenient and easy. But I always have bright hopes for our future generations because they can still be taught to make the right choices when it comes to protecting our planet.

I’ve taught environmental practices for many years and I’m still learning and trying to improve my craft. There are ever expanding knowledge and new techniques on how to save our planet. But can we truly save our planet though? Is it too late? Do we all need to make bigger changes to really see a positive impact? Perhaps. But every little step can lead to bigger ones.

This new year, let’s help our children understand the need to be more environmentally aware and to make little steps to help clean up our world. Below I’ve listed 10 easy ways to be an “environmentalist”.

10 Ways to Help Children be Environmental Leaders:

1 – Sit down with your child and visit some helpful websites to start their process: https://earth911.com/

https://www.ewg.org/

https://kidsgardening.org/

2 – After you’ve visited these sites, write a list of what you’ve learned and what you want to achieve.

 

 

3 – Learn these 5 important “R’s”: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose, and Refuse

Recycle – Look for packaging that are recyclable and check your local recycling municipalities for accepted packaging. Typical recyclable packaging for plastics are labeled with numbers 1, 2, and 5.

Reduce – Reduce your usage and purchases. Do you really need new toys? New clothes?

Reuse – Before you throw something away think about how you can reuse it. Some items can be repurposed or upcycled into something else. For example, plastic bottles can be used as planters or seed starters, old tires can be turned into colorful planters in your garden, or ripped shirts can be cut into pieces for cleaning around the house. There are endless possibilities for bringing new life to your old items.

Repurpose – This is much like upcycling or finding a new use for an old or about to be thrown away item. As stated above, you can find tons of new and useful ideas for plastic bottles, old clothes, and cardboard boxes that your purchases came shipped in.

Refuse – This one is perhaps the most difficult to accomplish, but it’s also quite easy once you get into the habit. Refuse plastic to-go utensils and bring your own instead. Refuse to-go containers especially if they’re in Styrofoam which is detrimental to our health and the environment. Refuse bulk buying unless they’re storable, you’ll use them in a reasonable timeframe, or you plan on giving some away. Bulk items might seem like a great monetary deal, but if you don’t have use for them then they can get forgotten and end up in the trash.

4 – Grow a home garden.  This is perhaps the most fun project for a child. When you grow your own food garden, you are saving money and your health. Start off small if you’re new at gardening and limited on space. You can grow an edible garden in planters or in ground. Check out one of my for  favorite kid-friendly gardening websites: https://kidsgardening.org/ easy and achievable tips.

5 – Start a Green Team club at school. Children as young as 5 years old can learn about saving the planet. I’ve run a Green Team at an elementary school for many years and I’m always amazed at how eager children are to learn and protect their world. Talk to the school principal and administrators first and get everyone on board!

6 – Visit local conservation sites such as the water and power department and recycling centers. If they give tours to the public, you will generally learn how different types of energy are used. Recycling centers are fun and educational and you’ll walk away with new knowledge on how to reduce and recycle.

7 – Start an environmental campaign. It could be as small as a group of like-minded friends or as large as a citywide movement. Your goal is to help people be more aware of taking care of our planet and the proper steps to make small changes that can lead to bigger changes.

8 – Start Composting. Each year, approximately 108 billion pounds of food is wasted  in the United States. Consider that amount ends up in our landfills causing horrendous amounts of greenhouse gas. The air we breathe gets contaminated due to the pollution caused by food waste and our beautiful oceans can hardly contain all the waste that ends up there. Compost is a great way of reducing leftover or unused food. The energy produced by composting the right materials can turn into healthy fertilizers for our plants.

9 – Support local and small businesses. While we still need to buy from conventional brands now and then, consider supporting local businesses that also supports a cleaner planet. But don’t just take their word for it. Look at their website and do some research. Visit their stores and see what they sell, their philosophy on using clean materials that can be traced to their origins, and how they produce and package their products.

10 – Take a stand on helping the environment and don’t let naysayers deter you. Children are wonderful learners and have the ability to see things in a clearer light than most adults. Allow them the room to grow into little environmentalists and they (and you) will be proud of their positive influences in the world.

Remember – the goal is to realize there is a problem with waste in our world. Food waste, energy waste, water waste, product waste, and the list goes on. Start with one or two goals and then the more comfortable you are with what you’ve started, the more you can expand.

 

Disclaimer: The product(s)were sent to the author for review by the manufacturer/PR. All reviews on “Happymomblogger” remain unbiased and unpaid and are the sole decision of the author. The opinions of these product(s) were not influenced in any way, shape, or form. As always, please read the ingredients carefully when trying new products.

Please read the labels and ingredients carefully and follow all manufacturer’s instructions (if any). The products selected for the giveaway were generously donated by the companies/PR to help readers learn more about their products. The winner’s choice in using/consuming these products are entirely up to the winner and will not hold the author and her family liable nor the companies/PR liable. These products are made with non-toxic ingredients but always be safe with what you use and consume.

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Green Christmas

The holidays are the perfect time to be more “green”. Around this time of year, when the holiday season is upon us, we’re too busy decorating, buying presents, and attending parties. People spend hordes of money and effort on making their homes just right for Christmas and for buying the ideal present for their family and friends. Neighbors outdo each other by seeing who can put out the most Christmas lights or decorations so that no one within a 50 mile radius can miss their house. It’s an opulent time of year to celebrate and an even harder time to try and be more green.

Well, as I’ve learned more about the importance of preserving our precious planet, each year I try to do a bit more in helping the environment. It’s gotten easier throughout the years as companies are learning how crucial it is to improve the sustainability of our planet by offsetting their manufacturing, using recyclable packaging, recycling their products, and so forth. There are certainly more options out there in what you can buy for people when it comes to environmentally-friendly gifts. You can even buy a tree to be planted to offset all the traveling you’ll probably be doing during the holidays – what with last minute gift shopping, heading to the local market to pick up some sugar that you forgot you ran out of, or picking up extra wrapping paper. You can learn more about planting trees throughout the world at American Forests website:  http://www.americanforests.org/.

But honestly, it’s more than just planting an extra tree to help preserve the environment. It’s more about how we can all reuse, reduce, and recycle. Take for instance the Christmas lights. Unless you’re getting LED lights, you’re using up an enormous amount of energy which can be saved for more important things. Most Christmas lights are LED lights so you’ll definitely find a good selection but then how much lights do you put on the outside and inside of your house? This year, I was seriously thinking of putting up some Christmas lights on the outside of our house but then even with LED lights, it’s still wasting A LOT of electricity. And our neighbors literally do try to outshine each other every year – our neighborhood looks like Disneyland fireworks – so bright and eye-catching! But alas, I think we’ll just stick with the Christmas lights on our Christmas tree and especially with a mischievous toddler in the house, I really can’t afford to have lights everywhere.

For many years I try to save wrapping paper and gift bags that I can reuse or repurpose. When I open a gift, and if the wrapping paper is extremely beautiful, I’ll be careful not to tear the paper and save it to wrap someone else’s present. And gift bags are truly too wasteful if you don’t save them and reuse them. I also buy brown recycled gift bags that I can just decorate myself to make it even more personal and fun. And for this year, instead of using the saved tissue paper from previous gifts, I think I’ll shred up my old magazines that I no longer read and use them as stuffing for gift bags and inside boxes. Everyone has some sort of magazines laying around that they no longer need and instead of recycling them, shredding them in your shredder would be a fun and different usage for them. And the more colorful the pages are, the better! And since you’re planning on recycling them anyway, at least they’ll be repurposed for something delightful.

And what about Christmas trees? Is it better to buy artificial trees or real trees? Artificial trees may last forever as long as you continue to like the style, but most artificial trees are made with a toxic material like PVC that can emit chemicals into the air and can be potentially harmful. PVC’s are the leading health toxins that can affect a person’s immune system over time and is especially dangerous for young children. And if you have a large Christmas tree that you’re going to put up for a few weeks and store throughout the year, then there’s always a risk of the PVC leaking into the air. While real Christmas trees are beautiful and can last a long time as well, they are also expendable. I always feel sad for the Christmas trees and pumpkins during the holidays (and turkeys) when they are grown only for the holidays and sold in mass quantities everywhere. But what happens when they don’t sell ALL of the trees and pumpkins? I always think it’s such a waste. Then there are trees called “living trees” where you can replant them after the holiday is over. However, I don’t hear very good things about them because they are hard to grow and it all depends on the climate and the space.

So, when it comes to trying to be more green this holiday season, I plan on using less electricity, less plastic decorations, and more eco-friendly packaging and gifts. I think the recipients of my gifts will appreciate that as well and I’ll feel better too. And it’s also a great time to teach my son the importance of trying to save the planet and help the people.

Happy Holidays!