Our friend Harriet Shugarman of Climate Mama shares a guest bloggers advice & straightforward ideas to put into action with the kids in your life today.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded that looking out for our planet and fighting climate change begin at home with simple actions. These actions help us find our voice and our role in demanding larger change within our community, our nation and our world!
Raising Environmental Awareness for Our Children
Guest Post by: by Christine Kane
In this day and age, when things are moving so fast and seemingly spinning out of control environmentally, how can we as parents or just concerned adults make children more aware in their day to day lives? It was an easier task back in the olden days, when I was a child. The things that make our lives easier today are also the things that are destroying our environment. I’m all for easier, but with that ease comes great responsibility. If we want to maintain our lifestyles, yet keep our world fit to live, in there are things we must do and pass along to our children. Here are a few very simple steps to help you in bringing awareness to your children and to those around you. I will give you a short list to get you started.
1. Talk to your children and make them aware of the issues. This seems like a no brainer but how many of us actually sit down with our kids and talk about the environment. With everything moving so fast these days and so many issues deserving our attention, especially with our children, we think they are getting all the information they need. Even if they are getting information from school or television, believe it or not, the greatest impact is in what you discuss with them. They want to know what you think and will follow because you are their parents!
2. Buy local fresh foods at farmer’s markets – getting back to fresh, local food. Why is this important to the environment? Well, recently I have been asking the same question and doing some research and will share with you some of the things I have found. This is beside the fact that most children love to go to the farmer’s market. My cousin recently shared with me that her four year old (only child) was in desperate need for school to start because she was making friends with the tomatoes they had just purchased at the farmer’s market where they live, naming the tomatoes on the way home!
3. Buying food locally means better nutrition. The faster you eat food after it has been harvested, the more nutrition it keeps. Local food is sold right away, so it keeps more nutrients then food that has to be shipped days away. Most food nowadays travels an average of fifteen hundred miles, mostly by plane or truck, which further adds to pollution. By buying your food locally, you can bypass this flawed delivery system.
4. Buying locally helps the local economy. If no one buys food from local farmers, how will they stay in business. Don’t promote the massive farms that supply big chains, buy local and help mom and pop stay on the farm. Buying local food also builds community. You get to know your neighbors and the local shopkeepers. You are also helping to keep your local environment viable by visiting local farms and teaching children what it means to make your own food.
5. Buying locally means keeping the land beautiful. If land is not productive, it will be sold to developers. Which would you rather see: a field of sunflowers or another shopping center? Make your choice by buying local food.
6. Buying locally helps the environment. Not only are you cutting down on transportation, but local farmers have an interest in keeping the land viable. They will be more cautious of what they put into the soil and water then the big guys that can move on when the land is depleted.
7. Planting trees and gardens with your children. As I was growing up my mom was always planting gardens and getting us involved. It was great fun to plant, water and watch our gardens grow. Eating what you grew was really exciting! Your children will enjoy planting trees when they are young and watching them get bigger as they get older. It’s a wonderful way to get your children involved and a nice way to spend time together. This seemingly small act will help our environment not only by the planting but by sharing down through the generations a love for nature.
8. Riding bikes, taking buses, driving; not flying on your vacations, buying fuel efficient cars. These are all ways we can help to reduce pollution and be an example to our children and those around us. Road trips can be fun or a nightmare; looking back to when I traveled with my folks as a child I do remember some nightmares! But I believe that these kinds of trips can be so bonding and the parents have the opportunity for creating fun, memories and learning experiences along the way. On another note, the majority of children love to ride bikes; family bike rides with a picnic at the end can be so much fun! I’m also reminded of a friend that I greatly admire who motivates me to a higher thinking about the environment. He actually rides his bike to work, and it’s not around the corner. He’s no spring chicken either. I’m not suggesting this is the route for all of us to take but we can all do something to change the way we travel, just thinking about it is the first step.
These are a few simple things we can do for our environment and help our children to become aware of some basic responsibilities we can all share. You and your children can do research and find out even more ways to get involved. Not all of these ideas will be applicable to your family, just glean from this information what will work best for your family and go from there! Just take one environmentally smart step at a time.