Most of us are aware how our lifestyle affects our environment. Lately though… spending time at home with family, I for one have become more mindful of our day-to-day habits and the impact our actions have, bigger picture. So, it’s only natural to consider what message we are sending our kiddies. Are there small changes we can make to improve ourselves and the world around us?
1. conservation is key
Talk to your curious kiddies about daily habits that, as a family, you can tweak to reduce negative impact on the environment. A good place to start is water and energy conservation around the home. Kids love a competition! Get them interested and learning with a challenge to reduce water use by taking shorter showers and turning the tap off to brush teeth or hair! And to reduce energy use by remembering to switch off lights, tv, heaters and coolers, computer/phone/ipad chargers …, whenever they are not in use.
Set up a scoreboard and give points when they conserve, and deduct points when they are caught not conserving. Kids are quick learners! They’ll become so much more aware of the water and energy they consume on a daily basis and with any luck, you won’t have to repeatedly say ‘switch of the lights’ anymore!
2. less is more
Another area to tackle is reliance on single-use plastics and packaged goods. Did you know, Australians buy almost 15 billion plastic bottles every year and most of these end up in landfill and in our waterways (according tosustainability.vic.gov.au).
Eeek! So, when at the supermarket, consider and discuss your choices to reduce the amount of packaging you require. And of course, BYO bags for fresh produce as well as overall shopping.
When at home, school or out and about consider; more home-made options instead of packaged foods, use lunchboxes and reusable containers that are suitable for wholefoods and don’t need foods to be packaged or wrapped individually in plastic, and always bring your own drink bottle wherever you go!
3. grow your own
If you’ve got some space in your garden, planting fruit trees, veggies and herbs is a fun and rewarding way to show kids where food comes from, and how with a little time and care you can sustainably source your own.
Start with a little research on what to grow and in which season and opt for low maintenance plants and herbs to begin with – lots of these can grow in pots too, if you don’t have the space for a patch! Kids will love digging, finding worms, planting, watering and of course seeing (and eating) the fruits of their labour! And as a family, you’ll get to enjoy spending time together in the great outdoors.
4. make your own
If the slime craze is anything to go by, kids will love scooping, measuring and mixing to make natural, chemical-free home cleaning products. Not just more sustainably produced, DIY cleaners are less toxic, so much safer for kiddies to use and to be around, particularly when indoors. And they’re cheaper, so mama’s winning all round!
Most ingredients are easily sourced, and some will likely already be in your pantry. Simply research recipes together and away you go. You can repurpose glass jars, containers and spray bottles to store your new cleaning products. Let kiddies get creative with labels and with different recipes and scents – whatever keeps it fun and interesting.
Please note, kids may not be so inspired to use the products for regular cleaning so that part will be a work in progress!
5. recycle & upcycle
There are so many benefits to recycling; it saves energy, reduces reliance on raw materials, and results in less waste going to landfill – just to name a few. It’s important kids understand what waste is, where it ends up and how recycling is a simple but effective way to reduce unnecessary waste.
Good old sorting bins are a good place to start, especially with littlies. You can separate plastic, cans, glass, paper and food waste into relevant bins and ensure all items are disposed of the correct way. Food waste can of course be used for compost to boost your vegie patch, if you want to take it that step further!And you don’t need to stop at waste.
Together you can consider what personal and household items can be recycled rather than disposed of. Can clothes be handed down to family or friends, can toys be donated to a local kindergarten or toy library and can your too-small bike or baby-dollhouse be upcycled with a little love and some spray paint, and gifted to someone else? Upcycling can be heaps of fun. There’s nothing quite like taking something heading for the trash and turning it into someone else’s treasure!
Kids are curious little learners. It’s up to us to show them how to think sustainably and be thoughtful and resourceful, at every chance. So that together we can protect our health and wellbeing, and that of our planet. Every little bit counts.
A happy (mostly!) mama of three. Spends her days searching for the perfect balance between being a full-time mama, part-time b.box wordsmith and dedicated coffee consumer. Understands how hectic work and life can be and uses this mantra to live simply: The plan is, there is no plan, just stay as informed as you possibly can. Make choices to suit your family and you. And never apologise for seeing it through. Also, affectionately known as Mama Marie for her random acts of nerdy mumsiness and life mantras!