Reuse, reduce, recycle—you hear this all the time, from kindergarten classrooms all through adulthood. They’re three important ways a person protects the earth. You’ve also heard to turn electricity off when you’re not using it and conserving water. But what about other ways of caring for our environment? Those that may not be so obvious but make just as much impact (if not more)?
Parents can encourage kids to care for the environment by living an eco lifestyle year round.
How our family protects the earth
#1: Take the kids to nature outings
Kids will only take genuine action to protect the earth when they understand what’s at stake. A nature outing a relaxing and beautiful way to spend a few hours. And it’s necessary if you want to show your kids exactly what we have to take care of.
Even if you live in a big city like me, plenty of nature spots are still available for you and your kids to visit. Below are a few of our go-to outings in the city, both simple and grand:
- Hiking trails
- Botanical gardens
- Parks (even your local ones)
- Nature centers
#2: Grow a garden
I saw my five-year-old try to grow dandelion flowers in kinetic pretend sand. He was convinced they would grow, and I knew I had to step in and show him the right way.
So I bought a few containers, some bags of potting mix, vegetable food and spinach seeds. And as of today, they’re all growing and thriving. I hope to harvest what we planted and cook spinach recipes.
I want my kids to understand the growth process of a plant. They’ll learn that seeds sowed in the soil will later grow, all with a little help from water, the sun and good soil. I’m excited to see what else we can grow with container gardening.
#3: Instill frugal values
Frugality and living ecologically tie in so much more than just saving money. Less excessive lifestyles and consumption means we use just enough resources without being wasteful. Some values we instill include:
- Fixing broken items first before replacing them
- Make do without an item
- Using only enough and no more
- Teaching our kids not to be materialistic
- Taking care of our belongings
- Promoting open-ended toys and crafts with simple materials
#4: Shop at farmers markets
With food, local economies trump those that are farther away. Shopping at farmers markets provide you with high-quality food. Plus you’re supporting an eco-friendly process of growing and buying food.
How? Local farmers travel less distances to bring you food, using less gasoline. They also tend to practice safe farming. No pesticides, growing more than just one or two vegetables, and letting nature do its thing.
And shopping from farmers shows kids direct food sources. We took a road trip from LA to San Francisco where we drove through central California farms. It was awesome to strike up conversations with the farmers about their farms and fields we drove by.
#5: Borrow books, movies and music from the library
I read a ton of books but hardly own any. Sure, I have my two bookshelves with favorites. But I stopped buying books and instead borrow them from our library.
The library, an eco-friendly option? Yup. The more you borrow from the library instead of owning, the less raw materials you consume. Rather than piling books at home you’ll read just once, you can borrow and return them for someone else to use.
#6: Read about the world
My family and I don’t get to travel much, so exposing our kids to different parts of the world isn’t too feasible. So we compensate by reading about the world and the planet.
We’ve read books and encyclopedias about different countries and even outer space. My eldest has a “travel list” that includes South America, Egypt and the Grand Canyon. Learning about the earth’s landmarks and resources enforces stewardship towards a planet we need to care for.
Living green isn’t just recycling, hugging trees and living off the grid. Teach your kids to appreciate nature’s beauty by reading books and exploring natural spots. Instill the values of frugality and living within your means to avoid excess. And support systems that protect the earth such as buying from farmers and borrowing.
Simple changes to your family’s lifestyle can make a big impact on protecting our earth.
Get more tips:
- 11 Books and Stories for Kids about the Beach
- The Best Children’s Books about Gardening
- How to Teach Gratitude to Children
- The Simple Truth about Your Child’s Annoying Questions
Your turn: What lifestyle choices do you live by that help protect the earth? Is protecting the earth a priority for you and your family—why or why not? Let me know in the comments!
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