Today I’m participating in the Ultimate Blog Swap. You’ll find me posting over at Simple Life Celebrations writing about Bulk Bin Shopping, and I’m excited to welcome Mandi from Life…Your Way to The Living Green Solution:
As a mom, one of my hopes for my children is that our family values will become their values as they get older. I hope they live intentional, simple, passionate lives, and I hope they continue to look for ways to reduce their impact on the earth and live more naturally even when they have families of their own.
Here are some of the strategies we use in our home to teach our kids the values of living “green” :
Although, I believe that art is especially important for children as they learn to create and express themselves, I’ve felt guilty about the waste that comes from craft supplies that eventually just end up stuffed in a box somewhere or thrown in the trash.
What I’ve discovered is that kids are so creative that you can give them mostly repurposed items – egg cartons, packing paper, magazines, etc. – and they will spend hours creating with it. My girls now want to save every bit of ribbon and every cool piece of trash for future projects, so I think they got the message!
I’ve heard a couple different perspectives on this whole idea of resisting consumerism. One is to not expose children to commercials, catalogs and store displays that make them want, want, want more. However, marketing and advertisements are a part of life, so rather than shield our girls from those, we simply use them as learning opportunities:
Yes, something looks cool, but that doesn’t mean we have to buy it. Yes, that looks really neat, but you’ll need to save up your money for it. Yes, that does look fun, but will it last or is it going to fall apart? Yes, that’s very cool, but you’ll have to choose between all the cool things and pick the one you want most for your birthday.
Through this running dialogue, I am giving them the skills they need to not just avoid advertisements but to be able to evaluate their wants and know which things really add value and enjoyment to their life.
Share with others.
With 3 sets of grandparents, 4 sets of great-grandparents and various aunts and uncles, there is no lack of new toys in our home, but we actually have a fairly small wardrobe where we keep toys, and anything that doesn’t fit gets passed on to other kids.
Although it’s a lot easier to clean out the toys by myself, I involve my kids for a couple of reasons. Not only do I want to teach them how to declutter, but I also want them to know that they are very blessed and other kids don’t have as many toys as they do. Together we choose toys to pass on to other families. We don’t just pass on the old toys that we don’t like anymore, but we think about which things another family might really enjoy so that they’re learning sacrifice as well.
Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv is one of my very favorite “parenting” books. Louv talks about nature deficit disorder and the effect that it’s having on the younger generations as well as the important role that time in nature plays for children and teens.
I attended a Montessori school growing up, and some of my most vivid memories are caring for the rabbits horses, building shelters in the woods, digging ditches and removing gypsy moth caterpillars from trees, and I know that those experiences shaped me and helped me become the person I am today.
In fact, my husband and I bought 2.5 acres in wild, wonderful West Virginia just so that we could raise our children in a place where they could spend hours outside exploring nature. Having that connection with the environment really makes you think twice about the other decisions you make in your life!
Leave the world a better place than you found it.
I love the idea of leaving any place you go better than you found it, and it’s a lesson I want to teach my children as well. How often do people step over a piece of trash in a parking lot because it’s not theirs? I want to encourage my kids to pick up trash (although it is important to point out the types of things they shouldn’t pick up with bare hands – broken glass, food, etc.) when they see it and to generally leave the world a better place wherever they go.
I’ve really found that my kids are natural little environmentalists, so this one comes naturally to them as they talk about how x, y and z could hurt this animal or that ecosystem.
Like all aspects of parenting, there’s no guaranteed formula for raising kids, but I hope to build a strong foundation through these strategies that they will carry with them for a lifetime.
How do (or will) you inspire your kids to live green?
Mandi Ehman is a wife and homeschooling mom of four spunky little girls. She’s also the founder of Life…Your Way, an online magazine dedicated to helping readers sort through all of the information and opinions that are thrown at them each day, and the author of How to Have Your Cake and Eat It, Too, an ebook designed to inspire and empower moms to pursue their passions.
Visit Life…Your Way to see all of the Ultimate Blog Swap participants!