Growing Up With Awareness Of Our Shared Environment – Planet Earth

Candace Reid

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It wasn’t until December 2011 that the Environmental Protection Agency issued the first national limits (PDF) on mercury, arsenic and other toxic emissions from power plants. That may seem crazy considering the known toxic nature of those chemicals. As a parent, I’m well aware that mercury exposure, even in small quantities, can affect children’s brains and nervous systems. What took them so long?

The process of teaching kids to be more environmentally responsible is a continuous one. Kids will be kids – so they need to be reminded and rewarded along the way. As a bonus for parents, enlisting the kids’ help pays off when it comes to lowering electricity bills and cutting down on other resources.

I Want To Be Like Mommy

When children are young, they mimic their parent’s lifestyle. What you introduce to them as normal everyday living is what they will accept as normal everyday living. If they are raised in a household that practices greener living it just becomes a natural (pun intended) part of how they think to live.

Unfortunately other influences outside of your household will impact their thoughts as well, so just teaching by living isn’t enough. In order for children to want to continue to help as they grow older they must first be taught to care.

First They Need to Care

Kids need to understand why sustainability and ecological matters matter. Parents need to create that desire.

Teaching kids about things that are good for the environment is great, but why should they care? “The environment” would sound pretty vague to me if I was a kid. Kids need to know the impact of the lives we lead and how it directly affects them now and in the future.

Think about this. Every small child you know right now will be in their 30’s in the year 2050. By that time 15-37% of our plant and animal species could be wiped out due to global warming and their children won’t know it any other way.

That’s a sobering thought. Here’s another one…

The United States is ranked as the #1 global warming polluter in the world compared to all other large nations.

Simple Steps

· Teaching kids about reducing, reusing, and recycling is easy when you make it rewarding. Have your kids take part in every day recycling duties at home. Kids love to earn money. Teach them about turning recycling into cash, helping them set goals for the funds.

· Make it a game at the grocery store. Have kids help find the words or symbols on food that designates whether the packaging is made from recyclable materials or if the food itself is certified Organic.

· Parent Magazine writer, Jeana Lee Tahnk shares a great idea in the Huffington Post.

“Designate a “Green Day” each month when you take advantage of the outdoors, go to a local farmer’s market, avoid processed foods or gather up toys/clothes that are no longer needed and donate them.”

· Take advantage of what’s nearby. Are there science museums or zoos around? These are great places to find educational classes on the environment for kids of all ages. Look into state hosted programs as well, like this one hosted by the Texas electricity providers here. The tips are basically universal, but you can also Google your state’s electricity providers and go from there.

By reducing your carbon footprint, you will be teaching kids how to reduce their own, and also how to save money. My advice is to start them while their young. It’s up to us, as parents, to instill an awareness and respect for the environment we all share. What are your ideas on how to best educate our kids on living responsibly with respect to the environment?


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