If you’re a parent and want your children to live a green life, there are lots of things you can do to make their environments greener, like using green cleaning products to clean their rooms and toys. Companies like Seventh Generation, Method, and Mrs. Meyers all make green cleaning products, or you can make your own cleaning solutions with vinegar or baking soda.
Vinegar is a disinfectant and a great glass cleaner. Baking soda neutralizes both acids and bases, eliminating (not covering up ) odors. Just mix either vinegar or baking soda with some water and you’ve got an instant, very affordable cleaner. Make sure not to mix vinegar and baking soda together, unless you want to give your kids a lesson in chemical reactions.
But if you really want to give your children a green life, take them outside. Studies show an increasing number of children are suffering from nature-deficit disorder (a term coined by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obesity.
Children can learn a lot from being outside and unplugged from fast-paced, electronic stimuli. Consider growing a garden with your children. Let them participate in choosing and planting the seeds and encourage them to tend to the garden. They will derive much more joy from eating the fruits of their labor if they actually do the labor.
Take them on hikes. You could even up the ante and teach them about ecology, relationships between species, or environmental issues like habitat destruction or pollution. In the end, if your children learn to appreciate nature, whether it’s through growing a garden, hiking, or any other activity that lends itself to being in nature, they will know its value and want to act as a steward toward the nature that they love.
Going outside is great and profoundly important, but if the weather or your schedule aren’t cooperating, there are still plenty of indoor activities to get your children thinking green. There are many green books available, including Dear Children of the Earth by Schim Schimmel, Wonderful Nature, Wonderful You by Karin Ireland, and Where the Wisdom Lies: A Message from Nature’s Small Creatures by Hope Ives Mauran. You could even transform a car ride into a lesson by listening to the Give a Hootenanny! Twangy Tunes About Lovin the Earth CD by Heidi Howe.
Involve your children in implementing a recycling plan in your home. You could even use some “trash” to create art and gifts. With some (non-toxic) paint, almost anything can be turned into a work of art, from cans to light bulbs (which make great Christmas ornaments when turned upside down and tied with a string).
The key to instilling environmental values in your children is to have it be a part of your lives. Whether it’s a hike, a camping weekend, a book, a piece of eco-art, or recycling, the small steps that you make in your life to be greener will set an example for your children that will stay with them for their entire life.