Teaching kids how to reduce their carbon footprint and gain an eco-friendly mindset helps them understand the importance of a healthy planet and develop an awareness of their impact on the environment. Careful consideration of daily habits and early education can lower an individual footprint – one step at a time. Here are some easy ways to start:
Flip the Switch and Unplug Lowering energy consumption (and cost) can be as easy as just flipping the switch. Teach kids to turn off lights each time they leave a room. Also encourage them to open window coverings and use sunlight as the main light source during daylight hours. Beware of “phantom power: use - unplug all appliances when not in use.
Precious H20 According to the report The Carbon Footprint of Water, it is estimated “that US water-related energy use is at least 521 million MWh a year—equivalent to 13% of the nation’s electricity consumption.” Check for and fix leaky faucets and limit hot water usage by retrofitting fixtures and appliances. Children can help by ensuring that faucets are turned off while brushing teeth and after hand washing. Promote short showers… perhaps put an egg timer by the shower to limit length.
Recycle An important place to instill good green habits for children is to teach them early on how to sort recyclables (and going the extra step in considering the amount of packaging that comes into the home to begin with). Create easily accessible separate bins for paper, plastic/tin/glass and waste. Find out if your local municipality supports aluminum and glass recycling at a sorting facility.
Reuse Buying re-usable water bottles and containers is an eco-conscious way to teach kids how to avoid unnecessary waste. Have kids help pack their lunches and use reusable BPA-free plastic containers for sandwiches and snacks.
Ditch the car Walk or bike to easy-to-reach destinations instead of driving. Not only does it help teach kids more responsible ways of mobility, it promotes fitness.
Thrift and be thrifty With the rise of ‘fast fashion’ more and more clothing is landing in landfills across the country. According to a blog by the EPA, 25.5 BILLION pounds of “useable textiles” are tossed as waste each year. Instead of throwing away used clothes, donate garments to a charity. If an item is too stained or worn to donate, make cleaning cloths from them or have kids use old shirts for painting or craft projects. Visit thrift stores so kids can see what treasures they might discover from the donations of others.
Eco-conscious behaviors and habits can begin at any age. Teach kids their role in the environment by helping them embrace a more mindful lifestyle that benefits us all.