Teaching our children to care for the planet works in more than one way. We are helping improve the world they live in and helping them to also see the importance of caring for it.
There are lots of little ways we can accomplish this. Easy lessons and simple fixes that will leave smaller carbon footprint.
Here are a few ways to get started and to teach your children how:
Electronics draw a small amount of electricity even when they are not being used. Unplug them at night and when not in use and save about $100.00 a year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, depending on number and type. Teach children that the less electricity they waste, the better it is for the planet.
With all the family activities that most people are involved in, consider combining car trips so that errands can be run on days when you have to be out anyway. Let kids take the bus. Consider mass transit for your work, if possible. Impress on your family the importance of saving money on gas and also reducing emissions.
Make weatherproofing your home a family project. Select a weekend when it is nice weather to check windows and doors for leaks, do a little caulking, and think of other ways you can reduce your utility bills. Consider planting a wind break of trees, as well. They will help shade in summer and protect from cold during the winter.
In-home energy efficiency field trip
Teach your children how to check the Energy Star rating on your home appliances. If you are in the market for new ones, let them tag along and give their input by checking their ratings.
Laptop vs. desktop
I had no idea until I did the research for this article that laptops are up to 80 percent more energy-efficient than desktops. This is according to Energy Star. When you are in the market for new computers, take this into consideration.
Think about installing a water-saving showerhead. A simple switch shuts off the water while you are soaping up and scrubbing. It is a sacrifice, but can save thousands of gallons of water every year. Teach your children to spend less time in the shower. I remember my teens would be out of control, spending 20-25 minutes in there. While it is nice, it has a powerful impact on both utility bills and the planet. Consider a kitchen timer for lingerers.
If you live in an area that is bike-friendly, bikes are a great investment for short trips. Also, walking is great on a number of levels including fitness, saving money and reducing emissions.
Buy locally and grow what you can
Shopping farmer's markets supports local business, reduces environmental impact and is much healthier. Growing a few things each year and adding a few more things the following year is a great way to save money and teach children about self-sufficiency. Start with something small and easy, like salad greens and tomatoes, and then add herbs, peppers and other things as you become more green-thumbed. Children love to produce food. Let them pick out their crop.
Lower the thermostat
Keeping your thermostat at a lower setting and putting on sweaters will save lots of money and energy. When you leave the house, lower it more. Bedtime is also a great time to cut it back. Drapes rather than curtains will help insulate your home, as well.
Repurposing, recycling and reducing
When shopping, look for things with less packaging, like bags of cereal and not a bag inside a box. Buy more whole foods and less processed foods. Take kids with you and let them help you make choices. Recycle when you can. Rather than taking loads of stuff to the dump or landfill, find someone who might need it, donate it to charity, or repurpose it. I love repurposing things, and there are tons of ideas on the Internet to help you be creative with your trash. Here are some more ideas on teaching kids to recycle.
We owe it to our children to teach them to be responsible for caring for our planet, saving money, and reducing their carbon footprint. Having a regular family council and asking everyone to present ways to carry out this goal is a great idea. Get the kids involved and leave them a better place to live and a better mindset.