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6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sustainable Living

6 Ways to Teach Your Kids About Sustainable Living

Once you have a baby, your life changes. Not only in the small ways –  you  have less time for yourself, you drive slower, and maybe you even  buy life  insurance – but you start to take a look around and see ways to  improve the  world. One of the ways that many people choose to do so is  choosing a more sustainable life.

What is that, you  might ask? A sustainable lifestyle uses resources  minimally, with  minimal negative impact on the earth and with maximum potential  and  benefit for others. The standard, traditional industrial model utilizes   genetically modified ingredients, non-organic methods and cares very  little for  the impact on the environment. In short, it’s a selfish way  to live.

I’ve been trying, for several years now, to teach my  children what it means  to live in a sustainable manner. To teach them  why it matters how the animals  were raised, what chemicals were poured  into the soil, and how things just  don’t disappear when you toss them  into the trashcan. The can that we have for  recycling is a good start,  but it’s just a small step and I want my children to  take gigantic leaps  toward making the planet a better place for their  children.

We  vote at every single meal. We vote to eat the right  things for our body,  but that voting should begin with the purchase and  preparation of the  foods we ingest. Local, organic, sustainable. One great way  to help your  children see this is by growing your own food. It doesn’t have to  be a  large garden at first – maybe just tomatoes and herbs in a pot on your   porch. Once you do this, you’ll see how easy it can be to grow your own  foods,  and as a bonus, those foods are healthier for you, especially if  you chose to  grow them organically.

Start a rainwater collection  area, and use that water for  your garden. This is a simple, albeit messy, way for your kids to be actively  involved in the process that doesn’t need too much supervision.

Start composting. Creating a compost pile reduces food waste while providing  organic fertilizer for your garden. If you use worms, your  children are sure to  be interested in helping – I’ve yet to meet one  child who can stay away from  worms. If all of this sounds like too much  work, or you just don’t have the  time or space to garden, see if your  community offers a garden plot. One year I  put in a garden at my father-in-law’s house. Think outside the box and your  taste buds will  appreciate the effort.

Turn to your local farmer’s markets. They  can be fantastic  sources of fresh, organic produce, and usually offer dairy, butcher or baker  products too. It’s a perfect family outing for a Saturday morning or weeknight  evening. Everyone can walk, hand-pick their produce choices, smell the herbs for  themselves, and maybe even hear live music.

Eat  as close to nature as possible, with more fruits and  vegetables, seeds  and whole grains. We try to eat as many colors as we can at a  meal, but not day-glow orange or sickly green. Institute “Meatless Monday”, and try to eat vegetarian for every meal  on  Mondays. Reducing your family’s intake of meat helps the world. The  United  Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat  industry  generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas  emissions, more than  the transportation industry! One  fantastic way to do this is by making  your own pizza, which children love to help prepare.

Avoid  single use products. This has been a huge teaching  moment in our  family, more so due to the larger number of people we have. Paper  towels, disposable diapers, scratch paper, triple-wrapped convenience  foods  and female products all contribute heavily to a large trash load, and those  things don’t disappear when the trash truck leaves. Visit the  recycling plant  and help your children learn how to recycle the  “right” way. Buy reusable water  bottles for each member of your family  and get in to the habit of taking them  with you whenever you leave the  house.

Often, I feel overwhelmed at the reality that one person,  or one family,  really won’t make a difference in the world. Much of what  needs to change can  only be accomplished on the government level. Vote  with these thoughts in mind,  and inform your congressmen and senators of  the reasons behind your votes.

Sustainable living sounds like a  very overwhelming concept, but it’s not  when you make small changes that slowly added up to make a big difference. Each  change you make offers a learning experience for your kids that they’ll probably  enjoy being a part of.

By Carmen Staicer for


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