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  • How to Raise Kids who Care for the Environment

    We can raise a generation of kids who are conscious about their environment. Here's how.
    by Martine De Luna .
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    Getting our children to care about the earth
    What can parents do to raise their kids up to be concerned about their environment? Here are a few baby steps you can take as a family towards a more green, more Earth-conscious lifestyle.

    1. Be eco-friendly as parents.
    Kids imbibe what they see, so if you want to raise your children to be eco-friendly, you have to be eco-friendly yourself. If you watch TV all the time and favor the couch instead of taking a stroll or a walk, then you subliminally communicate to your kids that you don't value the outdoors. You can tell your kids to love the environment, but you won't see change unless you first set the standard. Actively teach your kids to reduce, reuse and recycle. Take walks and strolls on weekends outdoors instead of in malls. Be an example of advocacy by getting involved with local environmental organizations.

    2. Instil eco-friendly habits at home.
    Give each child an eco-friendly responsibility so that they will “own” a particular role in the family. For example:
    - Assign one child to collect newspapers daily and put them in the recycling bin.
    - Get them involved in trash collection so that they don't take garbage workers for granted; teach them the importance of segregating trash.
    - Begin composting your biodegradable trash by building a compost pit and teaching your kids to cultivate their own plants afterwards.
    - Provide segregated containers for the kids, labelling them accordingly: glass, cardboard, paperboard, aluminum cans, tin cans, etc.

    3. Surround them with eco-centric attractions and alternatives.
    Turn off the TV or unsubscribe to the cable company! Instead, start a library at home of used books; you can teach your kids to buy one book twice a month in order to build up a collection of books they truly love. Read with your kids every day, instead of plopping them in front of the TV indiscriminately. On weekends, go out of town and spend the day in the countryside, perhaps visiting the zoo, the science center, the butterfly garden or a park.

    4. Involve your kids in volunteer work.
    There is no better way to impart eco-friendly values to your kid than by walking your talk. If you're involved in an environmental group or organization, get your kids involved as soon as they are able to appreciate the group's efforts and objectives. There are various organizations that offer programs for children and teens; such organizations are important in forming your child's worldview. By doing volunteer work, your child's perception of the world around him goes beyond your nuclear family and extends to his global family. Group or organization involvement also opens your kids up to connect with other people their age who share the same love for the environment.

    5. Teach them to buy recycled products or second-hand items.  
    Malls can be money-suckers and can impart erroneous consumerist values to your kids. Teach your kids to be eco-centric about their purchases; as much as possible, teach them to only buy post consumer recycled products. Teach them also to appreciate second-hand clothes and toys, as this is one of the best ways to reuse materials and consume less.

    6. Teach them to save energy.
    Instilling conservation habits early on in your kids will ensure that they grow up to be energy-conscious. Simply teaching them to shut faucets properly and to turn off lights and appliances when not in use is a good start. You can reinforce these habits by putting up small reminder signs for them, such as in the bathroom or in certain spots in the kitchen, living room and bedroom.  Teach them to hang laundry to air dry; it's a great way to get them to value housework as well.

    7. Ease up on other activities that keep your kids busy.  
    In order for your kids to have time to participate in more environmentally-centric activities, you as parents need to help them out. In today's fast-paced and hyper-competitive world, children are exhausted because of multiple involvements, such as team sports, tutorial programs, after-school lessons, homework and other extra-curriculars. Give your kids a break by limiting such activities so that you can have time to practice eco-friendly habits and get them involved in causes that will really impact their environment.


    Photos from flickr creativecommons

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