Ever wish there was a guide to help you with going green for all ages? You’re in luck! From the smallest babies to the most esteemed elderly citizens, we can all do our part to help save the planet. Living green is easy, once you create a game plan!
When it comes to teaching kids about going green, you can start as young as 6 months. Babies start to notice and want to imitate our actions at a very young age. If you are composting and recycling items, your children will notice. They may not understand, but they’ll definitely see what you are doing!
By the time kids are able to talk, they may start asking questions about your routine. Children 2 years and older can even help you sort recycling or select organic produce at the market. Chances are, they’ll be with you when you shop for food, when you clean your home, and when you sort recycling and trash. If you give a short recitation of what you are doing, they’ll associate your green actions with responsibility and good citizenship.
As children get older, they can take part in family routines. Ages 4-11 are the ideal time to instill green family values. Kids are starting to take part in chores. And they can also learn how the household runs. Naturally curious, young people are especially receptive to lessons on living green at this age.
If you can gently encourage green habits at this age – like turning off water when brushing teeth, and riding bicycles to school – by the time they become teenagers, green will be part of their routine!
Now is also a great time to build on their inquisitive nature. Start, “I wonder” conversations to spur discussion regarding science (solar or wind energy), climate and weather patterns, and wildlife/habitat. You can have some fun with this, even recording the kids’ answers on video. You’ll be surprised at how much they already know!
As your kids grow into Middle School and High School, nurture their budding independence. Keeping up with fashion trends can be expensive and wasteful. But if you explore second-hand stores like Goodwill or hit garage sales, its a good compromise. Or, host a clothing-exchange party. Everyone brings 4 or 5 items they wish to trade. At the end of the evening, they all walk away with “new” clothes!
You can also help your teens find eco-friendly, ethically-sourced, free trade items. Companies like Free People offer the latest fashions with minimal carbon footprint. Handbags can be more than just an accessory. Upcycled items are used to create beautiful, trendy bags as unique as your teen!
Some teens use this time to express a desire to live vegetarian or vegan. Encourage them to help in the kitchen and with the grocery shopping. Ask them to explain their reasons for going animal-free. You might be surprised that others in the family also decide to go meatless as a result.
Perhaps one of the most important things to do is to continue having conversations with your teenager. They might seem one-sided, but they are listening and do appreciate the attention. Instead of just lecturing, notice and comment on the responsible behaviors, too. Praise has a funny way of encouraging more of the same!
While going green for all ages may differ on the surface, in the end we’re all looking to do the same thing: living a sustainable lifestyle and helping to preserve the planet for our – and others’ – future enjoyment!