Taking The Plunge
Going Green or heading into a sustainable future is something we should all aspire too. It can seem like an overwhelming challenge at first, and after seeing some mum blogs or pintrest posts of mums who have it all figured out and look like they are saving the planet one beeswax wrap at a time it can seem too out of reach and meant for those who have all the time in the world to do a million and one projects to cut down their footprint. But like all worthwhile projects, going green and heading towards a more sustainable future for your family takes times. When are you going to find time for this though? You may ask, well lucky enough there are plenty of things you can do to up your green game and involve your kids at the same time! Bellow are a list of different activities to help with living a greener life that you can involve your kids and have the opportunity to learn and grow with them teaching them about the importance of a sustainable future and spending some beautiful quality time with them.
In The Garden
One of the first things that springs to mind when you hear the word ‘green’ is of course trees!!
Staring with nature it’s self can be a beautiful way to start your and your children’s Eco journey. Talk to your children about how the earth needs trees to provide clean air for us. If you have a backyard you could consider planting a tree with your kids. Open a discussion about which trees are their favorites and which would be best suited to your yard and environment. Planting fruit trees can be a beautiful thing as kids can actually watch the fruit grow and sample it themselves, and you’ll save in your grocery bill!
If you live in a smaller space and planting a tree may not be possible for you, check in with your local council and see if there are any rehabilitation projects going on in the area in which you could be a part of. Often local councils will have tree-planting projects that they love to get the community involved in. It can also be a great social opportunity to expose your kids to people who have a great knowledge and love for the environment and they may just be inspired!
Another beautiful way to incorporate green into your home is by planting a garden, flowers can be beautiful and provide some lovey colour and excitement to your garden but veggie and herb patches can be really useful in helping to provide your family with fresh produce.
Now I know a huge veggie patch is almost a full time job, but it doesn’t have to be big, at least not to start with. It can be as small as a few pots of herbs by the windowsill that kids can help cut to go into lunches and dinners.
Cherry tomatoes are also great for small spaces and can really flourish; also kids adore picking them off and eating them as snacks. Find out what grows best in your area and spend time with your kids carefully selecting the plants that best suit the family, no point planting carrots if no one in the family likes them! Go through every step with the kids, teaching them about soil, earth worms and what makes our food nutritious and delicious. Children love to watch the process of things and love to watch things grow. This can also be a great idea if your kids aren’t huge fans of veggies to get them loving them. They will be too curious about what their snow peas taste like not to try them and food fresh of the vine or out of the soil is always so much more delicious. Growing a living thing can give kids such a sense of accompaniment. And gardening is always a great skill and step to being more sustainable.
This can also tie in really nicely to composting food scraps and recycling which we’ll talk about later.
One more idea for those with a bit more outdoor room is chickens! Kids love pets and some species of chickens can make beautiful pets. Also they great thing about chickens is you feed them and they feed you. Help the kids be involved in feeding the everyday and also collecting their eggs daily. This can make them very proud and help to teach them responsibility and to be mindful about where their food comes from and to respect animals.
Recycling With Intention
Recycling is another one of those obvious ones when it comes to going green. These days we are very lucky to have our towns doing a bit more to recycle and providing an assortment of bins to make recycling much easier. But the problem is many people are still not using them properly. The easiest way to start recycling is to set up smaller bins or boxes inside the home for this purpose. Get the kids to be creative and make signs for each bin, having them draw or cut from magazines the kid of things each bin is for. This way is make sit easier for them and you to remember which is which. Having your cardboard and plastics and food scraps and then your general waste separate in smaller bins makes it a lot easier when sorting it out into your bigger council collections bins. Take the time also with your kids to research into how things are recycled. There are videos on YouTube and documentaries also showing how the processes work. Knowing what good can come from their recycling can make them more eager to recycle properly and eventually cut down on waste when they see what things aren’t easily recyclable.
The Joys of Upcycling
The next step in Recycling is what is now referred to as Upcycling. Upcycling Is all about reusing things that have broken or are no longer needed as they are. There are so many creative projects that you can do with kids in reusing materials instead of going out and buying new. There projects can be grand scale like building go carts out of a too small kids bike and other scrap laying around in the garage, or tiny simple things like reusing an egg carton to grow seeds in. Teaching kids the importance of reusing things is vital when trying to move in a more sustainable direction. There are a range of fun projects to be had, sewing dolls clothes out of clothes they have outgrown, making their own shopping bags out of old clothes or scrap material. Upcycling is about teaching kids that just because it’s broken or doesn’t fit or they no longer want to use it doesn’t mean it has to be chucked in the junk, there are so many ways to reuse and if they truly don’t want something any longer, it doesn’t necessarily mean other wouldn’t. You know what they say, one mans trash is another mans treasure.
Teach kids the joy of donating. Old toys and games and clothes can go to charity shops. Teach your kids about how sharing their old things with others can really make someones day and add to the life of the product. An old teddy could turn into another child’s favourite new toy. There are also often other ways of donating goods whether it be to third world countries or disaster relief or just to charities that support the less fortunate. Talk about these with your kids and see what ideas they can come up with for things they would like to donate and special items that them may have out grown but would love to see given a second lease of life. You would be surprised at how many children would love the idea of sharing the things they don’t want or need and more with others that could really use it.
Taking Care Of Your Community
Doing community clean ups is a wonderful way to engage your kids with the community and their own ton. While litter is not a huge problem in Australia compared to some third world problems, chances are when you’re out for a walk along the beach other through the bush you will find some rubbish that has been dropped accidentally or blown in from somewhere.
Search on the internet for groups around your area that organize clean up days and if there are none, start your own!! Teaching kids to have pride in their own country can start with making them aware of what litter does to the environment. Many native animals are lost to accidentally eating or getting trapped in litter. Showing kids how easy it is to pick up that candy wrapper on the side of the road will make them firstly aware not to do it themselves and also to encourage other kids not to do it. By teaches them the negative effects littering can have on the environment you are setting them up with an understanding of the fragility of nature and why we need to protect it. If kids learn this from an early age they will be far more inclined to be a good role model for other kids around them and also to love and respect nature it’s self.
Creating a Litter Free Lunch
Single use plastic packaging is one of the major causes of pollution and accounts for so much of the litter you see around towns, on beaches and in the bush.
A lot of foods used in kids lunchboxes contain this single use plastic and also plastic wrap, to seal and keeps kids food fresh. Some of this plastic is not able to be recycled and as a result is damaging our environment. Trying out a Litter Free Lunch is a great way to cut down on your and your child’s use of plastic that may not be recycled correctly. Many foods, especially fruits and veggies come with their own natural casing and does actually need to be put into ziplock bags. There are a range of beautiful metal and BPA free lunchboxes out there not available that have great compartments in them which means that yogurt can be bought in a large tub and dolloped in every way instead of buying many little tubs. These compartments can help the raisins not to mix in with the carrot sticks and the dip not to mix with the sandwich, which is why we so often use pre packaged goods.
If getting a new lunchbox isn’t in the budget right now and you are still wanting to keep food sealed and fresher a great project to do with your kids is to create your own form of plastic wrap using just beeswax and cotton fabric.
This is another great project you can do at home with your kids. Have them pick out scraps of fabric form their old cotton clothes or bead spreads and cut them into squares then make a mix with beeswax to coat them in. There are plenty of wonderful recipes for this on the internet. This is a great way for the kids to add their own bit of style and special touch to their lunches and can make them excited to package their fruit or sandwiches in them themselves.
Burning Energy Not Fuel
Depending on where you live this may or may not work for you, but cycling instead of driving can help cut down on your families carbon emissions. If you are in riding distance for school then it’s the perfect start giving kids exercise and
Helping them save the planet is a winning combination. Even things like riding to the park or shops instead of driving can make a great difference and is a fun activity to do as a family.
Small Steps In The Right Direction
There are so many small ways you can teach your kids to make a sustainable difference in the world. Teach them these skills and you’ll see their appreciation for nature and their care for the world around them increase. By showing kids it can be fun and easy to choose more sustainable options you are helping them broaden their own horizons and be a better influence to those around them.
Remember, this doesn’t have to be a one month dramatic overhaul, but more small steps along the way to a greener future for your kids and their kids to enjoy.