Teaching kids to be green

The children of today are the decision-makers of the future. Therefore, it's imperative that youngsters learn about the planet and how to protect it.

Teaching children about the ways they can protect the planet or make simple changes to decrease their carbon footprints now may pave the way for more informed adults later, and children can discover the benefits of giving back rather than taking more.

• Bike, walk or carpool. Kids are in transit just as much as their adult counterparts, and how they get from point A to point Bcan help or hurt the environment. From home to school, from school to an extracurricular activity, from an extracurricular activity back to home, transportation is a large part of the day. Automobiles consume large amounts of fossil fuels and also release harmful contaminants into the air via their exhaust systems. Walking or biking to school gives children the opportunity to enjoy fresh air and exercise while reducing their reliance on fuels. If school is too far away, involve kids in the set-up of a carpool with friends and discuss the benefits of riding together.

• Take a trip. Children are visual creatures and often learn the best lessons by seeing what something is all about. A day trip to a working farm or a recycling center can teach important lessons about sustainability and conservation.

• Shop secondhand. Children and toys go hand-in-hand. However, what was once the latest and greatest toy can quickly become overshadowed by something new tomorrow. Explain the benefits of getting gently used toys, clothing and books instead of purchasing them new. Doing so reduces the reliance on the production of new things, cuts down on shipping and also saves money. Encourage kids to set up a toy swap where they pass on toys they no longer find interesting to others who can enjoy them.

• Lead by example. When installing new LED bulbs or switching out an appliance for an Energy Star-rated model, explain to children why this is being done. Children learn quickly and can grasp abstract ideas more easily than adults may think. They soon may catch on and make their own green changes, such as turning off lights when not in rooms, unplugging game chargers when not in use or using less water while brushing teeth before bed.

• Cook together. Instead of purchasing fast food and processed, packaged foods or traveling to a restaurant, make a meal at home that everyone can enjoy. Not only will this enable the family to talk about important local and global issues, it saves energy and reduces the family's carbon footprint as well.


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