Treading Lightly on the Earth with Kids

Treat the earth well: it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

When we have children, the idea of handing down our planet to them takes on a different context. At the same time, parents and children are being bombarded by companies with all sorts of must-have items. The mixed messages can make treading lightly on the Earth an increasingly difficult task, but there are many ways in which we can leave a positive legacy for our children while helping them to tread lightly, themselves.

  • Keep your baby close. Many parents who practice attachment parenting are able to take a minimalist approach to baby gear.
  • Recycle! With city wide programs and curbside pick-up in many towns, it’s easy to recycle these days. This is also an easy way for children to help, which they love to do. Even young children can keep an eye out for items that can be recycled and they can help get those items into the recycling bins. Make it a family challenge to decrease the amount of trash your family sends to the dump.
  • Get crafty with the recycle bin. If your kids are anything like mine, they are in a constant state of creativity. We’ve found a few ways to help lower their creative footprint. Rather than always using new materials, we often use recycled materials for craft and science projects. Packing materials make fantastic canvases, and items from the recycle bin can inspire sculptures or science experiments.
  • Give new life to the numerous art projects. Giving handmade gifts not only saves money and resources, it is special to those who receive it. Using your child’s projects as gifts extends the life of their work while cutting down on the ever-growing pile of creations in your home. Take pictures of the precious works of art and recycle them.
  • Get unplugged! Our world is one of electronic connectivity. Try connecting with your children in ways that don’t involve plugging in (even wirelessly). Electricity is a valuable resource. Cutting down on use lowers our impact on the world. Go for a walk, kick a ball around, read together, or try out a board game. You can even make getting unplugged a family challenge. Try spending a day or weekend without electricity. You can even regale your kids with stories about when you were a kid.
  • Clean up. Our family keeps old plastic bags in our van. Whenever we are out hiking or at a park, we try to clean up some of the trash we encounter.
  • Visit your local library. Borrowing from the library is a free way to share media with your children while sharing resources.
  • Buy locally. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market. Stock your freezer with meat purchased from a farmer. Get to know the people you buy from. Not only will you be supporting your local economy and neighbors, you’ll use fewer resources to get your items home.
  • D.I.Y. Grow your own food. Make items from scratch. You may not have the time to grow all of your own food and make things from scratch, but doing even a small amount cuts down on resource use.
  • Dispose of disposables. In our throw away society, every little bit helps. Use reusable items whenever you can, even if it’s only part-time. Give used items a new life in your home. Give items you don’t need to others.
  • Talk to your kids. Let them know why you choose not to buy from certain companies or why you spend your money they way the do. It’s great to model, but go the extra step and explain the reasons behind your actions.
  • Be respectful. People who are treated respectfully are more likely to be respectful – to others, to themselves, to animals and to the world around them.

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

About The Author: Mandy

My NPN Posts

Mandy O'Brien is an unschooling mom of five. She's an avid reader and self-proclaimed research fanatic. An active advocate of human rights, Mandy works to provide community programs through volunteer work. She is a co-author of the book Homemade Cleaners, where simple living and green cleaning meet science. She shares a glimpse into her life at Living Peacefully with Children, where she writes about various natural parenting subjects and is working to help parents identify with and normalize attachment parenting through Attachment Parents Get Real.

2 Responses to Treading Lightly on the Earth with Kids

  1. Gaby@Tmuffin  

    My son was obsessed with recycling at an early age. When he was 16 months old, he held up his empty yogurt container and said something I couldn’t understand. I finally realized he was telling me he wanted to go into the garage and recycle it!

    We often use recyclables for projects. Our current favorite is taking empty boxes and covering them with brown paper from grocery bags. He loves to paint them and then stack them up.

  2. Tom Ewer  

    Great post. So many people are small-minded about conservation, but if this generation doesn’t care, why should the next?

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