Earth Day is more than just taking one day a year to do things that are "green" and benefit the planet, it's about setting up habits for the future so you do them EVERY day to really make an impact.
Here are 10 things you can teach your toddlers NOW so they develop into life-long habits of being "green"!
1. Turn off the water when brushing your teeth! We all know how long kids take to brush their teeth so if an adult can save up to 8 gallons of water a day (assuming twice a day brushing) by turning off the faucet when brushing, imagine how much water a child can save!
2. Recycle! Take a pile mixed with some trash (not gross stuff but maybe some paper towels, a pizza box - those are NOT recyclable no matter how many times my own husband tries to put them in the bin - etc) and some recyclable items and have your toddler sort them out into 2 groups. You can even show them the numbers on plastic where it shows which type of plastic it is so they can tell the differences.
3. Turn off lights when you leave a room! Make this a habit now and you won't spend your own time turning off lights around your home when they get older - it's a win-win!
4. Unplug appliances / chargers when they aren't being used! This is important for us to remember and if we teach our children now, they will carry that habit into adulthood and we won't live in a world full of plugged in chargers with the ends just laying on the table or floor!
5. Make a compost pile! If you are able to, compost your organic waste (apple cores, stale bread, banana peels etc). Make a wooden box outside or use a plastic trash bin (with holes poked in the sides for air flow). This will make great soil for any potted plants or flower beds too so it's another win-win! As the kids get older they can use that box for a science experiment for school guessing how long certain things will take to decompose & see if they are right! (so really it's a win-win-win!)
6. Plant a tree or a garden! Use that composted soil as a great plant starter! Explain to your child how plants help produce the oxygen we breathe so it's important to take great care of them.
7. Clean up trash when you see it! See a candy wrapper on the ground? Pick it up and put it in the trash where it belongs. See that soda can? Pick it up and put it in the recycling bin. NOTE: I have always taught my children to just point out the trash to me so I can look at it to make sure it's safe for them (or I) to pick up before anyone actually touches it!
8. Use reusable water bottles! Water bottles, more often than not, wind up in the landfill instead of the recycle bin. Set an example for others by purchasing a sturdy reusable water bottle instead. They make many varieties now with filters built in or you can get a faucet filter for your kitchen sink and refill it from that!
9. Stop using paper products! Start using regular kitchen towels and napkins around the house instead of paper products! Just a single swap can save so much space in a landfill! As a bonus, you can learn to fold some really neat napkin shapes to dress up your dinner table!
PHOTO: Honey and Lime
10. Upcycle something! Teach your children to reuse items they already have into something new! For example, take a paper towel (or toilet paper) roll, and turn it into a bird feeder! Check out the instructions at Honey and Lime. NOTE: I keep a stash of toilet paper rolls in my house for just such projects - they never hit the recycle bin!
THIS BLOG POST HAS BEEN EDITED TO GIVE PROPER CREDIT TO Deanna At Honey and Lime for her bird feeder project. My apologies to Deanna for not having properly credited the photo in 2013 when this original blog post was made.
What other ideas do you have to help teach your children about taking care of our Earth?
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