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The first and the probably the most important step when your thinking about tackling “Going Green” in your home or school is to get others involved in this important project. It certainly will be a more difficult process to do on your own, especially if you want to make a lasting change in your family and/or school. So, you may want to think about championing a partner for your cause that truly believes in this important environmental issue. Here are some easy ways to get started.
How to “Go Green” at Home
Neighborhood Cleanup Project: Organize a group of children, such as your child’s class, girls/boys scout troops or sports team, and choose an area to clean up for the day. For instance, clean up your local school yard, library, playground or roadsides.
Plant a tree or garden. Have your family plant a tree in your yard or a neighbor’s yard. Try to beautify a local park with plants, trees or planting a garden. Get your entire family involved. This project helps to teach your children the importance of first valuing nature and the environment in their own homes. Then they can branch out to area community projects.
Turn your junk or garbage in to beautiful art projects, and make recycling fun.A great example is to use old milk cartons to make birdfeeders. You not only use recycled materials to make a fun project but you can also use the feeder to feed the birds in your neighborhood. You can set aside a bin near your waste paper basket to put recycle products that the kids can later use for projects. You can save old boxes, buttons, cans, old wrapping paper, cards, paper and so on. Then once a month you can have a family arts night. Take out the bin filled with all your recycled materials, along with some tape, scissors, glue, markers and let them use their creativity to construct a wonderful art project. You can even set a theme for each month, or build a town.
Avoid using plastic bags. Get the kids involved in using recycled bags when you do your family shopping. You can have them pick out some fun recyclable bags that you can reuse each week at the grocery store. Acting as a good role model for our earth will ensure that our children will realize how important we think it is.
Use public transportation. Remember to incorporate public transportation into your daily lives. You do not always have to drive your own car for all of your transportation needs. Don’t forget that using public transportation is a great learning opportunity for the entire family. It allows you to teach your children that it is more cost efficient and better for the environment to take the train or even the bus to work or school on a daily basis. Take some time to investigate these options with your family. You may even want to go on an adventure and take a bus to the mall or a train ride into the city on the weekend. This allows your family the first hand experience on how these systems work and how efficient they can be for everyone, if we only take advantage of them.
These are all great opportunities to share with your children on how to give back to our planet rather than take and waste our natural resources. The most important thing is to make these projects fun for your entire family!
How to “Go Green” at School
Save energy. Remember to teach your children the importance of conserving energy by shutting off the lights or turning off devices when they are not in use, such as your computers, radios, tv’s, ipads and so on.
Use Green cleaning products. Don’t forget to enlist the advice and support of maintenance crews at school. Have them ask the questions about what cleaning products they use. Are they using green products, which are better for allergies and help to protect the ozone?
Recycling projects. Take the opportunity to get kids involved in various recycling drives. Let them take ownership of these events. They will be more apt to get involved if they are in charge of the project. Let them decide the what, when and how they want to recycle. It could be an easy drive, such as recycling paper, bottles, books, printing cartridges and old cell phones. Maybe even get involved in clothing drives, sports equipment or even a costume-recycling project. Let the kids get creative. It is amazing what they may be interested in recycling. As an adult, we need to be good role models in our lives and work.
Carpool. You may want to start a carpooling program at school. The fewer cars on the road will allow for less pollution and fossil fuels consumed and released into the environment. Make sure to let the kids get involved in setting up the program. First, enlist the help of some adults, possibly the PTO at your school and then get started. It does not have to be a complicated process. Start small and add families as the program grows.
These are just a few of the great opportunities to “Go Green” in your school and home! Don’t forget to take the time to get involved in your local community agencies that can assist you in this area. You’re positive, proactive and authentic care of this important cause will allow your children to see how they can affect positive change on their environment. It’s easy to get started.
Kelli DiDomenico is Director of Parent and Community Relations at The Children’s Workshop. With over 20 years of experience, Kelli earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Rhode Island College and ran her own child care business before rejoining The Children’s Workshop family team in 2010.