Spring Fling: Helping Kids Go Green This Season
Did you become greener after becoming a parent? Then you joined a conscientious club of moms and dads who increased their eco-efforts as their family grew.
"To me, there are two aspects to being green: The first is about how you and your family affect the environment, and the second is about how you let the environment affect your family," says Dr. Jenn Berman, mother of 4-year-old twin girls, and author of the eco-friendly book SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start in the First 3 Years. Plus, "compassion for the earth inspires compassion for other people and animals," she says.
Try these six tips from Berman and other eco-experts to help your kids live greener lives this spring.
Make Composting a Family Affair
For Mary Talalay, an eco-friendly writer and mother of one in Maryland, composting is a huge part of her family's green efforts. "We started a simple compost pile by fencing off a small section of our yard -- away from the dogs' prying noses -- and now we literally never throw kitchen scraps anywhere but the compost pile," says Talalay. "I weighed one of our daily tubs of scraps, and it was about a pound of carrot peels, orange peels and the like. That's 365 pounds of waste that makes worms happy and stays out of the landfill!"
Go Meatless on Mondays
Switching the whole family over to vegetarianism might be too big of an undertaking for your family plan, but just one meat-free day a week can have a positive effect on your family -- and the earth. "Research has shown that animal agriculture is the single largest source of methane, which is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide," says Berman.
Lead by Example
If you forget to recycle those empty plastic bottles or turn off the lights when you leave the house, your kids will too. "How we act is so important," says Bruce Harley, author of Cut Your Energy Bills Now: 150 Smart Ways to Save Money and Make Your Home More Comfortable and Green. "The lesson of bringing cloth grocery bags to the store is lost if it takes a 6,000-pound SUV to bring two of us to the store in the first place."
Rack up Environmental Goodwill at Goodwill
Secondhand stores save gently worn clothes from ending up in landfills, which makes them a great -- and wallet-friendly -- way to green your family's wardrobe. "We bring clothes to Goodwill and we also shop there," says Talalay. "Sometimes I feel like I am renting clothes because we buy things there, my daughter wears them until they're too small, and back to Goodwill they go if they're still in good condition."
Make Showering a Water-saving Game
Kids like to compete, so the most fun way to make bath time green is by making it a game. "Shower timers in the bathroom are an easy and fun way for kids to get used to using less water and taking shorter showers," says Caroline Howell, founder of Green Beanie. "No one wants to be a ‘water waster,' as we call it at my house."
Watch Your Garden Grow -- Together
Have a picky eater? Green gardening is a great way to make sure your family is eating more wholesome veggies, says Talalay. Kids who help dig in the dirt will be excited to see -- and eat! -- the fruits of their labor. And you'll rest easy knowing that the food you grew flourished naturally.
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who's been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe.
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