The Power of Wonder | Connecting Children to Mother Nature
There are so many things we do on a daily basis that burn extra energy or consume unnecessary amounts of natural resources. These habits have become such an ingrained part of our daily routines that we often don't even know we're doing it anymore. As we continue to suck up what's left of our earth's precious (and limited) resources, it is especially important that we give the next generation all of the tools and awareness they will need to live the most sustainable and efficient lifestyle possible. With your kids, teaching sustainable living habits can not only serves the environment it inspires a sense of connectedness and wonder.
Try by first explaining the big picture to them. Find a way to best articulate to them that the earth's natural resources (which we rely on for human life) like water, fresh air, wood, and oil, are somewhat finite. We, however, are not. Our population continues to grow, and without controlled consumption, we will soon burn through these precious resources.
The cars we drive every day, and the chemicals emitted by factories and plants are polluting our fresh air. Carelessly long showers and pollution of our lakes are depleting our dangerously low fresh water supply. Some countries, like Ethiopia, Jamaica and Trinidad, don't even have regular access to fresh drinking water! Show your kids pictures like the one above of the people in Ethiopia bringing dirty water from the river to be boiled and decontaminated. Explain to them that oil has been over consumed for years to create gas that fuels our air polluting automobiles, causing a real depletion in our oil reserves beneath the earth as well. This has been the reason for the recent development of alternative energy sources, like electric cars and solar power. Encourage them to make wise choices going forward and as they grow up, to always choose the more eco-friendly option. Make them understand that if everyone takes these small steps to save the earth, together they will make a big difference for the future. Here are a few easy steps to take at home to get them started.
1. Teeth Brushing.
I myself am guilty of turning on the tap and letting it run as I scrub my pearly whites. (Something I've been trying to work on!) Encourage them to turn off the water after they've wet their toothbrush, and not to turn it back on until they're ready to rinse.
Create an incentive for them to ensure that lights are always turned off when they leave a room. Keep a quarter jar, and create a rule where anyone caught leaving a light on has to contribute a quarter (including mom and dad!). Once they've done this a few times, they'll be fed up with losing their allowance.
3. Don't flush for number one.
I know- kind of gross. But if there are only a few of you in the house, it's just family, right? It's a great way to reduce water consumption, as flushing and refilling the tank uses a great deal of water each time. You can obviously make an exception if you have guests over.
4. No Aerosol cans!
As they get older, encourage them to avoid aerosol deodorants, hairspray, room sprays, etc. These are huge pollutants (they contain harmful CFC's
) and there is always an alternative.
5. Doors and Windows
Encourage the kids to keep the doors and windows shut in times of extreme cold or heat. This will reduce the need for your heating/ AC to kick into overdrive to compensate for the change in temperature. This can burn a ton of energy! (Not to mention rack up your hydro bill at the end of the month.) Perhaps implement the quarter jar rule for this one too?
In those milder in between months however, you may find that you can turn off your heating/ air conditioning system altogether, keeping windows open to maintain air circulation. This burns the least amount of energy!
These are just a few ways to get your kids thinking about the environment and to create sustainable living habits from an early age.
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