There are seven deadly sins. I can’t rattle them off to you but I’ll apologize in advance, because I’m fairly certain I’m guilty of some many most of them. With that being said I have two children and an obligation to turn them into stewards of the Earth. My children (like yours) are kind little people, but they have a propensity towards gluttony.
The common thread with families who conserve is that they’re part of a community and their children have a sense of obligation. Children are born narcissists and can evolve into selfish beings or amazing, giving and inspired members of our society.
How do we grow them up green?
Discuss the three R’s in concrete and non-preachy terms (too darned late in this house).
Clearly it is imperative that we reduce what we use but it’s bor-ing. Instead of pounding it into their little heads that they have to do all three, quietly show them how they can choose to reduce. Do you want a new book? Great, let’s make a stack of books and put them on Swaptree, you can pick out whatever someone else has to trade. When you go to the grocery store, have your children estimate how many bags you’ll need to bring with you. It’s not about reminding them what they have to do, it’s about modeling what they can do and how it’s done.
Reusing is simple. I’ll kiss you (no tongue) if you’ll promise me that you won’t buy a one time use water bottle again. They are absurd. Pack your kids lunches in tupperware (or whichever brand you prefer) and gently explain to them why you don’t use disposable lunch sacks and plastic bags. Don’t belabor the point, but don’t be afraid to say that some things are just wrong. When my daughter asks me why I don’t buy individually packaged whatever snacks I’ll look right at her and say, “because that amount of packaging is just gross.” Ladies (and gentlemen too) it’s okay for us to look at our children and tell them that a thoughtful lifestyle is better. Please don’t be afraid to hurt your neighbor’s feelings, they aren’t afraid to gas you to death with their Hummer.
Recycling with kids is fun. It’s also simple. Want allowance? Collect Mommy’s wine detergent bottles and get yourself a few dollars each month. Art projects? Look around the house, collage is cool.
Most importantly, and often forgotten, is giving. Children who give are happy children. Children who are programmed to give from a very young age will continue to give as they come into maturity. Conservationists are inherently givers. Every major religion tithes, I can’t tell you the amounts, but I can tell you that in my house it’s 10%.
When my kids get allowance the first 10% goes in the charity jar, next 40% goes to savings and 50% into spend. When you’re living on two dollars a week for an ice cream cone it takes a while to save. They like their Webkins but it’s hard to part with money you’ve waited so long to earn. This way my kids reduce voluntarily, it’s an authentic situation that’s built to last.
I know that you’re wondering what giving has to do with being green. It’s about raising our kids with a sense of duty and obligation. It’s about showing our daughters that five dollars sent to a women’s shelter can supply a struggling mother with a safety net. Giving shows my son that he can take his money, use some coupons and bring toys to the dogs in the animal shelter.
Every dollar we thrust at our children has the ability to grow them up or spoil them. Spoilt children have given us enough greenhouse gasses to choke us all. I’m quite certain that there’s a crop of hopeful, helpful kids out there who can help fix this mess we’ve made. They just need us to empower them.
Jessica Gottlieb is raising two children in Los Angeles, and she writes about it at Jessica Gottlieb. This is an original post to EcoChildsPlay.
Sommer-Green and Clean Mom says
Super article. I use baggies (yikes, I know)and I need to stop. I like how you point out that we can just tell our kids the way it is. It is okay. Great read and it was humorous.
This was a fantastic article. You put things in great perspective, and provided a few cool ideas.
Tara Benwell says
Great article. I too am doing my best to help my two children develop into “stewards of the Earth”. One place where we fall short is the snacks. My husband has always done the grocery shopping, and I find it hard to keep pestering him about making “green choices”. He invites me to go and do it myself if I’m not happy, but he knows I won’t because I hate shopping! Your article inspired me. If anyone can recommend some easy “green” alternatives to fruit snacks and granola bars let me know. (My picky preschooler won’t eat plain fruit!)