Reduce, reuse, recycle. If you’re like me, your child already knows that used paper goes into the recycling bin, not the trash. But what else can be done to help kids be ecologically conscious from the start? Here are some simple steps to promote green living at a young age. (Note: I just skipped right over recycling. If you don’t know about Lake County’s fabulous recycling program, here is some info from SWALCO. As for the 4th R of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: it can stand for many things!)
Shop at consignment stores and garage sales—If you’ve never stepped inside a consignment sale, I urge you to do so. I think you’ll be surprised! We are fortunate to live in a county with many consignment shops selling solely children’s clothing and toys (See our article on Resale Shops of Lake County.). Why buy a new toy when you can get one for a fraction of the price AND help the environment? This is true of baby equipment as well. Although I bought everything new for my first child, for my second, I was ready to buy a gently-used pack n play for Grandma’s house. And all those electronic toys? They have a wide assortment at consignment stores.
Garage sales are another source. And many towns offer the convenience of browsing the items from home through Facebook. Try searching on Facebook for your town’s name and the words “garage sale.” And, of course, in addition to buying used, you can also sell or give your items away versus throwing them in the trash (gasp!).
Garden—Cut back on packaged groceries by growing your own! If you’re new to gardening (or not as skilled like me), start this year growing just one plant, such as a tomato plant. Have your child help plant it, water it, and harvest the rewards. Unsuccessful? That’s okay! Next year will go better. Here are some tips for gardening.
Become more creative/buy less stuff—If you’re like me, you’ve been at someone’s house who doesn’t have kids anymore—a toyless house! Somehow your child survived playing with measuring cups and a metal bowl. Instead of buying new toys, allow your child to play with his in new ways. Encourage Duplo blocks to be various foods and make a grocery store with them. Use measuring cups in the bathtub. Repurposing is a great way to promote creativity.
Fix broken toys—It’s time…Instead of rebuying a toy, repair the one you have. For me, that just means to stop being lazy and locate the bottle of super glue. And yes, duct tape can fix just about anything.
Teach your child the art of saying “No, Thank You”—Many places we go, my children are offered a sticker or a small trinket. Once in the van, they throw it right onto the floor, where it joins the other five billion never-to-be touched-again objects. Instead, don’t take it. Just say, “No, thank you.” Teach your child to do the same. And this is true even if you sort-of paid for the item, such as the t-shirt given out at the 5-K race or the tote bag you get when you sign up for a class.
The easiest “No, thank you” for me is the pack of crayons at restaurants that accompany a kids’ menu. I keep a small bag of crayons in my purse instead. Super easy (and my color variety is better!)
What do you do to promote a green child?