Teaching children to care for the environment is an important parental responsibility that is crucial for their future. But sometimes helping the planet can feel overwhelming for small shoulders. Remember to encourage young children to take one step at a time when going green. The little things they can do really make a big difference.
Many solutions to our environmental problems are very simple. There are many ways to care for the environment – from reusing common household items to putting paper and plastic in the recycle box. Encourage children to do one small thing, and then add another and another . Before you know it, those little steps add up to a lot more green. Also consider your children’s ages and how much responsibility they can handle. Above all, make it a fun family affair. Children learn best when they are happy and can model our behavior.
Here are 10 ways to encourage children to go green:
The power switch: One simple way we can conserve the earth’s resources is by not using more electricity than we need. Teach children to turn off lights when they leave a room and turn off the TV if they are not watching it.
Pull the plug: Even when electronics and appliances are turned off, they still consume energy if plugged in the electrical outlet. Conserve energy by teaching older children to unplug their game systems, computers, chargers, or audio equipment. Little ones can participate too by becoming the family “plug police” and inform grownups of any unused household equipment that is plugged into an electrical outlet.
Tighten up: Encourage children to check water taps in the house to make sure they are tightened and inform a grownup if any faucets leak. A drop-per-second leak wastes about 2,400 gallons of water a year.
Turn off the tap: Water should not be running while children brush their teeth. Teach children to turn off the tap and reduce shower time to conserve energy.
Collect rainwater: Water can be recycled too! Children often enjoy collecting rainwater. The next time it rains, place a pail or container outside and put a heavy rock or brick inside to prevent it from tipping over. When the rain is done, they will have a fresh supply of water to feed household plants.
Use community resources: Libraries carry more than books. Selection of CDs, audio tapes and DVDs are also available. Some communities have toy lending libraries. Learn about community resources and encourage children to find items that are new to them instead of purchasing new things.
Pass it on: Clothes, toys and other household items that are no longer used can be donated to organizations instead of thrown into the trash. Pick through items with your children and find a local organization that will benefit from your donation. Children feel good knowing they are helping their community.
Litter free lunch challenge: Packaging our children’s lunches can create a lot of waste. Most disposable items can be replaced by reusable ones. Involve your children in finding creative ways to pack a healthy lunch that leaves no trash behind. Try inexpensive stainless steel cutlery instead of plastic, cloth napkins rather than paper, or thermoses, reusable glass, and plastic containers instead of disposable plastic or paper.
Reuse or recycle: Teaching children to place recyclable items in the recycle bin is an important way to help the environment. Finding creative ways to reuse household items is another. Make it a fun challenge for the entire family. Be creative and you’ll be surprised how easily an empty cereal box can be transformed into a letter holder, or how quickly an empty shoebox can turn into a storage container for photos and artwork. The possibilities are endless! You’ll be reducing waste and having a fun time with the children’s new ideas.
Bike or Walk: Going somewhere doesn’t always mean having to use a car. Encourage your children to walk or ride their bikes for short trips. For younger children, grab your running shoes and walk or bike with them. In addition to reducing pollution, the entire family will benefit from some exercise.
Fostering a love for planet Earth, and teaching children the behavior needed to preserve its beauty, can be achieved when simple solutions are implemented. Fortunately, children are often eager and enthusiastic to lend a helping hand. With guidance, children will grow up to become stewards of the environment so their world will be a cleaner and safer place to live in. [naturallysavy]
Green living for kids is just as important as it is for adults. Children live what they learn and experience as they grow. Developing a respect for the environment at an early age will make a difference in your child’s future and the future of the planet.
Start Teaching Green Living Early=
As soon as your baby is born you can make green living a part of her life. By using organic toys and cloth diapers, as well as making other environmentally responsible choices, your baby can begin to develop an awareness of the earth from the very beginning.
Jill Vanderwood, author of What’s It Like, Living Green? Kids Teaching Kids, by the Way They Live, says “the future of the green movement will be led by the children, who will help adults change the way they look at things.”
In getting your young ones started in the path of environmental awareness, she says “The most important step you can take is to change just one thing. Start recycling, reusing or stop wasting water, then go from there and make another change.”
Some other ideas to consider are:
- Organic cotton clothing and bedding
- Toys and furniture made from organic cotton, sustainable sources and recycled plastics
- Low or zero VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) paints
Green Living for Kids as They Grow
As children grow they can be more involved in the choice to live in an environmentally responsible manner. Encouraging them to choose this lifestyle is an important way to help them feel good about their choices. Discuss environmental problems with them and listen to their thoughts and ideas.
Read About Other Kids Going Green
Vanderwood’s book is full of examples of children who have been inspired to start green living projects in their community, some of which have expanded dramatically. For example, she writes of “kids like Janine Lacare who is the co-founder of Kids Saving the Rainforest, an organization she began in Costa Rica when she was only nine years old” and about “the story of Ryan Hreljac who began Ryan’s Well Foundation to bring clean water wells to poor countries around the world, with his first donation as a seven year-old.”
The book gives examples of ways schools and families can encourage children to undertake such bold efforts, but there are many tried and true green living ideas to let your child explore a more eco-friendly lifestyle. “They can learn to think about saving the planet in simple ways,” says Vanderwood, “like walking or taking their bikes instead of asking Mom or Dad for a ride, not leaving the lights and TV on, not changing their clothes so often, and using reusable water bottles.”
Grow a Garden
Give your child a small area in your vegetable garden to grow his choice of vegetables. Radishes are good when a child is very young because they grow quickly. Other easy to grow vegetables include:
- Green beans
- Snap peas
- Cherry tomatoes
Recycling is an important part of green living. Many towns have recycling programs. Talk about recycling and practice recycling at home. If your child’s school does not have a recycling program, talk to the administration about beginning one.
Another step to recycling is buying products that are made from recycled products. Look for items that are labeled as having been created from a percentage of post-consumer waste products. These items are more widely available than ever before and can include:
- School supplies
Buy Fair Trade Items
Teach your children about the Fair Trade label and what it means. It is an approach to manufacturing that guarantees workers (especially those in other countries) not only a wage that they can live on but better working conditions for them and an increased standard of living for their families. Companies that practice fair trade often sponsor medical clinics, schools and other community services.
By doing simple things like turning the water off when brushing their teeth or making a rain barrel to gather rainwater for watering the plants, children can begin to understand the importance of protecting water resources.
It is important for children to understand that electricity use also has an effect on the environment. By teaching them to do simple things like turning off the lights or television when they leave a room, you encourage them to respect this resource.
Another way to get children interested in saving energy is to help them build solar and wind powered projects from kits. These kits are available in a variety of types, sizes and prices at almost any toy store or Internet toy website.
Become a Wise Consumer
One of the ways to encourage green living for kids is to inspire them to be wise consumers. Buying items secondhand and selecting items that have less impact on the environment are good ways to be an eco- friendly consumer. Other ways that this can be done are:
- Purchase reusable bags
- Shop thrift shops and garage sales
- Buy organic
- Shop locally
Live Green Yourself
Green living for kids is not an overnight thing. Vanderwood says “making several small changes over a long period of time makes it easy to adjust to each change instead of reverting back to old habits.”
It is also important to take every opportunity to discuss environmental issues with your children and answer their questions. A green lifestyle is a lifetime commitment to the environment. Helping a child to make that commitment is as simple as sharing your own life with her. “Teaching kids about green living is a great way to start a change,” says Vanderwood. “After all, who wants to inherit an earth filled with waste and garbage?” [greenliving]
Living near a park or other green space appeared to benefit city kids with severe asthma, especially older kids who were more likely to play outside on their own, according to researchers here.
For every 305 meters (about 1,000 feet) between home and park, children had 1 extra day of asthma symptoms. In addition, children who lived next to a park averaged 5 symptomatic days and children living 305 meters from the park had 6 symptomatic days, reported Kelli DePriest, a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore, and colleagues.
Among older children (ages 6-12), those living next to the park had an average of 5 symptomatic days, they said in a early presentation at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress.
Urban living is a known risk factor for asthma in children, as well as poorly controlled disease, but it is less clear if having access to a park or other green space, and utilizing these spaces, benefits city kids with severe asthma that is poorly controlled, DePriest noted.
“According to health department statistics, Baltimore has the highest pediatric asthma hospitalization rate of any city in the United States,” she told MedPage Today. “That made it a good place to look at the impact of living close to a park or green spaces on asthma severity in children with pretty severe asthma.”
Baltimore is a city of around 620,000 people, with levels of pollution similar to New York and Los Angeles, but slightly lower than those in London and Milan.
The study included 196 children, ages of 3 to 12 years, who had either visited emergency departments at least twice or had asthma-related hospitalizations during the past year.
“This group of children are predominantly African American, Medicaid insured, and their families are from a lower socioeconomic status, which means they represent a population at high risk for asthma-related mortality,” DePriest said in an ERS press statement.
The children’s parents were asked how many days their child had suffered with symptoms such as being short of breath, chest pain, and wheezing.
Researchers also mapped the distances between the children’s home addresses and the closest green space.
The average length from home to the nearest park averaged around 250 meters, or about two city blocks. While some children lived immediately next to a green space, others were more than a kilometer (about 3,300 feet) away.
The effect seemed strongest for children ages 6 years and up, DePriest noted. “This might be because they have more freedom to choose where they want to go compared to younger children. These results are important because they provide further support for the benefits of city parks, and they suggest that the right building policies can improve children’s health.”
Mina Gaga, MD, PhD, ERS president-elect, said several possible mechanisms may be at play to explain the findings.
She noted that previous research has shown the air in urban parks, and other urban green spaces to be cleaner, than surrounding areas with few trees or plants. There is also the “hygiene hypothesis,” that playing outside, and/or in the dirt, may help protect kids from allergy and asthma.
“It’s also clear that getting exercise is beneficial to kids with asthma, so it appears to be a win-win situation to have parks nearby,” said Gaga, who is with the Athens Chest Hospital.
Finally, she noted that time spent outdoors is “also very good for children’s spirits. The definition of health includes happiness. So I think it is very important to be in an environment that is sunny, green, and nice.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Millennials are returning to one of civilizations most ancient traditions – working the land.
Whether it’s a business, an urban farm, a plot of land shared by the neighborhood or a garden in their own backyard, the generation that was born after 1980 is planting their hands in soil.
According to the 2013 National Gardening Association Special Report: Garden to Table, which comes out every five years, there were 13 million millennial gardeners that year, an increase from 8 million in 2008. The 2016 National Gardening Report says 5 million of the 6 million new gardening households last year were 18- to 34-year-olds.
Seth Matlick, 32, grew up in New York, the country’s ultimate concrete jungle. Besides some houseplants, he said he never grew anything or visited a farm. He now operates and owns Vida Verde, a four-acre organic vegetable farm in the North Valley. The farm grows more than 300 types of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers. It sells the produce and herbs to 15 local restaurants and La Montañita Co-op.
Matlick’s farm also participates in the Community Supported Agriculture program, which helps financially support their operation while providing community members with fresh produce. Matlick said program participants essentially buy a share of the farm at the beginning of each calendar year. In return, they receive a box of fresh produce weekly for 26 weeks.
“It comes out to about $23 a week,” he said. “In exchange you get $25 to $30 worth of food (a week).”
After attending college in Vermont and studying sociology and business, Matlick started working at the Bronx Zoo but soon became restless. He said he decided to travel and found himself in New Mexico, a place he had never visited. He fell in love with the openness of the state and the opportunities to be outdoors. A friend suggested to him that he try a farming internship and he did just that.
“At then end of it, I decided I loved the lifestyle,” he said. “I love being outside and I loved being able to bring my dog to work.”
Matlick wasn’t quite ready to trade in his ticket to the concrete jungle though. He wanted to farm while still having access to city life. Matlick said when he was growing up urban farms and community gardens were not something available to city dwellers. He said he’s seen it become more popular among his peers, but like him, although they embrace the craft, they aren’t necessarily willing to abandon city living all together.
“I love still being able to live in a city,” he said. “Albuquerque is an urban environment but it has a rural feel to it.”
Albuquerque resident John Philpott, 26, is originally from Nebraska where he said he saw a lot of large farms but not a lot of individual farming and gardening. His parents had a small garden but it was never something he really considered as an adult until he worked at a grocery store.
“I got this idea that instead of buying fruits and vegetables, I could grow them,” he said. “Fresh picked stuff always tastes better.”
A few months ago Philpott and his wife relocated to Albuquerque from Gallup, where they had established a hearty garden. Philpott said he used the internet to teach himself about the best techniques and methods for gardening. The couple installed a hoop house, which functions as a greenhouse, to bolster their yield. Inside they planted vegetables, including beets and carrots.
They now live in a duplex in the Wells Park neighborhood, so they don’t have enough space for a hoop house. Philpott hasn’t let that deter him. He has placed his vegetables inside a raised planter box with a plexiglass window that protects the garden from wind and helps trap the heat during the cold months.
North Valley resident and New Jersey native Sean Foran, 32, said he’s literally reconnecting with his roots by planting roots. His family, he said, is from Italy and growing their own food is a longtime tradition. He had a grandparent nicknamed “Strawberry Grandpa” because he was so well known for the strawberries he grew. He got his start in college when he helped create a community garden as part of his social work degree.
He and his wife have started a small garden in their backyard growing tomatoes, lettuce, kale and fruit trees as well as raising their own chickens.
“As I dove more and more into gardening, I connected more with my childhood,” he said. “I put in a little time every day. I look at that as leaving the world behind.” [abqjournal.com]
In the last year, the urban gardens that have really grabbed people’s attention on Houzz have a number of characteristics in common. All are stylish, contemporary and maximize space for outdoor living. Many have calming color palettes, such as deep green, white and charcoal, and — no surprise — are expertly designed to carve out privacy in crowded city lots.
Location is the most notable common thread of the most popular urban backyard photos uploaded and saved to ideabooks in 2016. Hats off to London’s landscape architects and garden designers who took 8 out of the top 10 urban gardens.
10. Lush backyard getaway. This leafy retreat in the Pimlico neighborhood of London feels hidden, thanks to a slatted screen at the back of the garden and mature trees, vines and shrubbery on either side. Bamboo, grown in brick planters toward the back, offers a quick-growing screen for urban gardens.
9. Living wall. Vertical gardens have been popular on Houzz for the past few years, but this walled London courtyard is a particular standout. With just enough room for a cafe table and chairs, the narrow courtyard left little space for large-scale potted plants. Covering the wall with vertical planting pockets makes room for growing a diverse array of ferns, vines and perennial flowers and creates a verdant backdrop.
8. Sleek lines. This favorite garden proves that with a creative design, even an oddly shaped, sloping lot has enormous potential. Working with the London backyard’s natural gradient changes, garden designer John Davies created a series of terraces and planting beds so that the resulting view from the ground floor is one of lush foliage layers. Lights washed over specimen plants and soft lighting from the fountain create an inviting atmosphere after dark.
Related: Shop for Outdoor Fountains
7. Layered garden. This peaceful garden designed by Charlie Albone won a Silver-Gilt Medal at the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show and resonated with Houzzers worldwide. The formal structure of symmetrical planting and clipped boxwood hedges provide balance with the exuberant purple, white and magenta blooms.
6. Urban cool. Dark decking, river rocks and black mondo grass give a chic, moody look to this London backyard. We’ve seen black being used in exterior design over the last couple of years, and if the number of times this London backyard has been saved by Houzz users is any indication, it’s not going out of style.
5. Backyard lounge. This stylish retreat in Hampstead, London, would be the perfect place to relax on a sunny afternoon with a group of friends or family. Using artificial turf instead of a traditional lawn cuts down on maintenance and frees up more time to enjoy the garden.
4. Sunken patio. This sophisticated outdoor lounge, complete with daybeds and a modern fireplace, would look right at home outside one of London’s chicest spas. Instead, the space is a private backyard behind an Islington home. Dark wood fencing and bright foliage enclose the sunken patio to create a private retreat.
Related: Find a Fire Pit for Your Backyard
3. Outdoor room. Another award-winning garden from the 2016 Chelsea Flower Show, this outdoor room designed by Hay Joung Hwang offers plenty of inspiring ideas for Houzz users.Creating a semienclosed space outside — this one is made of three walls and a ceiling — would be a useful extension off the home for an urban garden. In warm weather, one could enjoy eating outside under a canopy of trailing vines. Even on a cloudy day, the outdoor living room would feel cozy and inviting with a fabulous view of romantic, cottage-style perennial beds.
2. Backyard pergola. Designed for outdoor entertaining, this garden in South West London offers an alfresco dining area and shaded lounge thanks to the wooden lattice. It’s perfect for relaxing with a cool drink on a summer afternoon. City planning departments have been known to allow homeowners a few extra feet of wooden lattice on their perimeter fences above the maximum height limit. In a tight city lot, an extra few feet of lattice can add much-needed privacy while still allowing light into the garden.
1. Walk on water. It’s no surprise that Houzz users found this urban backyard to be inspiring. Stepping out from a London flat and into this tranquil retreat would feel like being transported on a mini vacation from city life. The lotus pond, symmetrical tree backdrop, and soothing colors of green, gray and deep purple all evoke a sense of calm.