The earlier in life you learn how to live a greener lifestyle, the better. Repetition turns actions into habits, so teaching kids how to save energy, conserve resources, and avoid creating waste will help them live more sustainably as they grow older and establish their own households.
To get started, here are 10 green tips you can teach your kids now to help them develop resource-saving – and money-saving – ways to live green.
1. Use paper on both sides. Have a readily available pile of paper that has been printed or written on one side only for use in making notes, drawing, and the like. Then when both sides are written on, recycle.
2. Encourage walking or riding a bicycle to go to school whenever possible. Same goes for running errands. Trips to the nearby store or post office only require a car if you are bringing back a load of items.
3. Don’t buy bottled water, and teach your kids not to buy it. You will use less plastic, create less litter, and save money. I have written about the benefits of avoiding bottled water before.
4. Check out books from the local or school library rather than buying them new. Try to find used text books; this is a huge money saver and resource-saver, since paper, book covers, and binding materials are all saved.
5. Videos can also be borrowed from the library, a good alternative to having them shipped by a delivery service or buying them new. Streaming them on your computer via Netflix or similar sources is also an attractive way to avoid wasting resources.
6. Have your kids go with you to donate used clothing and household items to charities. They will feel good about themselves through helping others and your unwanted items get used a second time.
7. Have your kids use a cloth book satchel rather than a plastic one.
8. Teach your kids not to throw batteries and electronic waste in the trash. These should be recycled at stores that have recycling bins set up or at electronic waste recycling centers near your home.
9. Set up a garden at home in the spring for growing organic vegetables. Your kids can help plant, water, and care for the garden, watch the plants grow, and enjoy the results at meal-time.
10. Have your kids take a lunch, and reuse sandwich bags and containers. Limit the items that are thrown away.
By teaching your kids some ideas about living greener now, they will grow up with more resource-efficient habits. It is also quite likely that they will add a few of their own ideas on how to live green and save money in the future.