Beyond Earth Day: 5 Kid Friendly and Sustainable Habits for a Healthier Future
Earth Day is over…now what? Rather than wait until the next one, it’s time to focus on creating sustainable and earth friendly habits that you can adopt as a family all year long. The best part is that your kids can help out AND it will save you resources (i.e. money) in the long run! Research shows that our children learn lifelong habits through parent observation. And when you build these habits together, it creates not only sustainable and healthy habits, but also deeper connections in the family unit. Keep on reading to see some changes you can make as a family!
1. Out with the paper, in with the cloth! Find places in your home where you can switch out paper towels or tissue for simple hand towels or cloth napkins. We used to go through paper towels like mad because of spills, wet hands, etc (I’m sure everyone with littles of any age can relate)! We still keep our paper towels handy in case of those major spill emergencies, but tucked away in a cabinet. You can come up with a fun or attractive display for your hand towels with easy access. The best part is that your kids can be in charge of rolling up the cloth towels and putting them in their place after each wash.
2. Plant a seed, a sprout, or an entire garden! Whatever your level of green thumb is, plant some herbs, vegetables, or even edible flowers with your littles. Have them involved in the whole process including picking out what to grow, digging in the dirt, and then harvesting it when ready. They will develop a healthy connection not only to nature, but also to the food that they put in their body. The best part is that this can be done year round with simple windowsill herbs or elaborate aerogardens. Expert tip: Plant a few seeds at a time and choose fast growing plants in the beginning to insure success!
3. Use Reusable bags beyond the grocery store! Let your kids pick out their own reusable bag and have them personalize it with their names, decorations, and all. Have them use this bag for EVERYTHING they can. My kids still have their old totes from preschool that they had decorated, and it has functioned as our sports and extracurricular activity bag for years. Bonus points if the personalization can survive multiple washes in the laundry (think sharpie pens and fabric paint)!
4. Worm Composting. I know you you may have an ick factor with this one, but bear with. Start a composting area with your littles with mealworms (they are enclosed and the worms don’t escape). You can buy a premade composting kit or make one with a bin and DIY YouTube videos. Your littles will love watching these worms get to work and can help with collecting the food scraps to feed the worms. Extra bonus in this is that they can use the worm compost to fertilize their plant or garden from number 2 above!
5. Trade in your weekend family activity for a family walk, hike, or bike ride in nature! This last one is my favorite for so many reasons. It has numerous benefits with the most important one being present together as a family while appreciating nature’s bounty. Next time you are considering a trip to the movies, a restaurant, or arcade, consider going for a family hike instead. It can be done in any weather as long as you have appropriate gear, with the exception of a polar vortex or a major heat wave of course. Even if you don’t live near mountains, oceans, or catalog worthy scenery, you can still take a walk at your local park and marvel at the seasonal beauty surrounding you with your littles. This teaches them gratitude for their environment and helps plant the seeds for sustainable habits.
Try out one or all of the above with your littles to teach them compassion for our planet. You can adapt any of these activities to make them age appropriate. Our children deserve the same type of rich and resourceful earth that most of their parents were fortunate to grow up in!