Growing up green

Introduce eco-friendly habits into your kids' lives

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Kids love to mimic grownups and that behavior can be fostered when they see Mom and Dad going green. Parents who reduce, reuse and recycle are setting positive examples for their kids. While going green might not seem like the most kid-friendly activity, there are lots of ways for you to involve your kids in efforts to live eco-friendly lifestyles.

• Donate clothing and toys. Children outgrow their clothing pretty quickly. Rather than discarding items they can no longer wear, take kids along to donation centers or thrift stores to show them how their clothes can be reused. Use this as an opportunity to teach kids how donating or recycling old items cuts down on the need to use natural resources to create new items. Do the same with toys, which kids tend to outgrow almost as quickly as their clothing.

• Bike to school. Stay-at-home moms and dads, telecommuters or those who have time can bike to school with their kids. Teach them how biking instead of driving helps to conserve fuel and how such conservation benefits the planet. If biking is not an option, you can organize carpools, teaching your kids how traveling together instead of individually helps to conserve fuel.

• Avoid plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles might seem more convenient because they don’t need to be washed after using them, but plastic bottles, many of which are derived from crude oil, generate enormous amounts of waste that ultimately end up in landfills. In addition, the transportation of such bottles from factories to store shelves requires the burning of significant amounts of fossil fuels. Take kids along to the store to purchase their own fun, reusable water bottle, explaining to them how they’re doing their part to protect the planet by choosing reusable bottles over bottled water.

• Visit the library. Little ones who love to read can borrow books from the library rather than asking Mom and Dad to purchase their own copies at the bookstore. Explain how borrowing cuts down on the need for paper, which helps preserve forests and reduce waste.

• Spend more time in the great outdoors. Many parents want their kids to spend more time outdoors and less time on the couch playing video games or watching television. Make an effort to spend more time outdoors hiking, camping or fishing. Enjoyable excursions can instill a love and appreciation for nature, and that love can inspire them to a lifetime of protecting the planet and conserving its resources.