by Mae Kiggins
Even simple holidays can teach kids the value of giving back. Take St. Patrick?s Day, for example. This year, my children and I are learning how to be ?green? in an effort to live a more sustainable life, and we started with the basics: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
Reduce.?In our consumer-driven world, parents often feel the need to give their children more ?stuff.? Instead of taking kids to a movie, try reading a book together or, better yet, head outdoors for family fun time at a fee-free location. Local parks, trails, nature centers and libraries are excellent options. Get together with friends and share toys during an outdoor playdate. Be creative, the possibilities are endless.
Reuse.?Kids accumulate clothing and gear, especially those who frequent the outdoors. How about starting a ?Take It or Leave It? event to exchange items no longer needed? Meet other parents at a designated location, take what you need, and leave your outgrown or unwanted gear behind. Bonus: This is a great way to clear out closets and toy boxes at home!
Additionally, many options exist for purchasing second-hand items online. Great choices include thredUp?for used women?s and kids clothing, GearTrade?and standbys like Craigslist and eBay.
Recycle.?Even if your community doesn?t have a formal recycling program, there are still ways to kick cans, bottles, and paper to the curb. Visit your city?s waste-management website to locate the nearest recycling center. Make an activity out of decorating labeled boxes for recycling at home. Ask the neighbors to join in, and set aside one weekend a month to take everything at once.Beyond the Basics
Upcycle. ?Upcycling? is taking something old and creating something new and beautiful. This can be as simple as making a swing out of an old tire and some rope, to making furniture out of used wooden pallets. Do some searching online; you?ll be amazed at what people have created. There are even companies that specialize in selling upcycled products.
Nature-inspired crafting. Spring is the perfect time to make bird feeders. We made these using sticks, pipe cleaners or string and Cheerios. So simple and refillable.
Buy locally-grown produce. Get your kids involved in gardening or shop your local farmers market. Research grocery outlets in your area and patronize those that support local agriculture efforts.
Make a green treat. Ok, this isn’t very sustainable, but my kids and I always enjoy making goodies together, and homemade beats pre-made, any day. Try St. Patrick’s Day indoor s’mores; crispy rice treats with a few drops of green food coloring, then topped with dark chocolate and crushed graham crackers.Other tips for ?going green?
Unplug appliances when not in use. Plugged in, appliances use energy even when turned off. The phenomenon has many names: Phantom energy, vampire energy, or idle current. Whatever the name, energy is wasted. Unplug your appliances when you’re not using them, especially while traveling.
Use the dishwasher. Surprisingly, dishwashers use less water than filling the sink or keeping the faucet running to rinse. Shift the light. If you have blinds covering your windows, angle light toward the ceiling during warmer summer months. This will keep the house cooler while still allowing natural light to filter into the room.
Mae Kiggins is an outdoor urban mom with a background in forestry and outdoor education. She is publisher of the blog Mommy Loves Trees and lives with her family in Oklahoma.?