Even the smallest children can make an impact on the environment. Parents teach children by example how to live green with a few easy steps.
1. Have a meeting.
This needs to be a question and answer session. Sample questions should include:
- What do we do that uses electricity (and gasoline)?
- How do we produce trash?
- How could we produce less trash?
- How can we make the earth healthier?
If your children are too young to answer these questions, have the meeting with your spouse. Your children will grow up knowing this plan simply as the way things are.
Older children can answer these questions with more ways than you know. They just may know of a school program to help out your green efforts.
2. Start with the easy part: The recycling triangle
Most solid waste management companies have recycling programs. If yours does not, contact your local government for information on their recycling program. If you still don’t have a program, this could be just the project for school or a local community group.
Place a recycling container beside your garbage can to collect aluminum cans, plastic bottles, glass containers, cardboard and paper. Bring your plastic shopping bags back to the store, and use fabric shopping bags.
Hand-in-hand with recycling is reducing. Visit the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website and download their brochure on reducing solid waste. Before you throw it away, think about whether or not you can use it again or compost it.
Find out when the next hazardous waste event will be held to discard paint, batteries, solvent, pesticides and other hazardous or poisonous materials.
The final arrow of the triangle is reuse. Swap paper towels for a dish towel, dishcloth and a sponge for spills and drying. Adopt a travel mug instead of a go-cup from where you shop. Use ceramic cups or glasses at home. Dress the table with a table cloth and cloth napkins instead of disposable vinyl and paper.
3. Save electricity.
Join the Great American Turn Off. If you are not using it, turn it off. Leave the room, turn it off: the light, television, computer, radio…
This includes power strips. Computers and televisions will continue to use electricity after turned off. Turn off the power strip.
You are already using rechargeable batteries. When they are charged, unplug them.
If you cannot live without the air conditioning, keep the filters clean, and the system running at peak efficiency. Give your AC a twice yearly physical. Open windows and fans can save you more than $500 per year just in electricity.
Only use dishwashers and washing machines when they are full. Use cold water to wash clothes. Hang towels on towel racks to dry. Hang blankets on shower rods or on a clothes line. By not using an electric drier, you are using less electricity.
Check with your local electric company. If they have off-peak hours, they will charge less for energy used. Schedule to use appliances then.
4. Save gasoline.
Plan trips to include at least three stops. If you cannot, ask a neighbor if they need something while you are going to save a trip.
Carpool, walk or bicycle any place you can. If you take your children to school, see if you can pick up a neighbor’s children on the way.
If your trip will not take you over 45 mph, roll down the windows. Air conditioning burns more gasoline in stop-and-go traffic. If you are on the highway, roll up the windows. At high speeds, the drag from the windows decreases the car’s efficiency.
Learn more ways to make your car more efficient and to cut driving expenses.
5. Give Mother Nature a hand.
Visit the Department of Agriculture’s website to get “Backyard Conservationist“. This booklet will teach your children the beginning steps to making your backyard a green haven.
Learn about mulching, composting, water conservation, planting trees, wildlife habitat and preservation.
Teaching your children about green living is a lesson which pays dividends for you, them, their children and your great-grandchildren. Every step forward helps bring green living from the home to school to the workplace to the world.
Step up. Teach your children how to live green.
What do you teach your children about green living?
(c) Red Dwyer 2011
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