Earth Day is Near: Steps to a greener family in 2012

Earth Day is right around the corner and it’s the perfect time of year to teach your children about how to care for Planet Earth. Here are 10 easy steps your family can follow to be greener in 2012. Cheers to Earth Day!

Energy conservation. Teach your kids about simple ways they can save energy around the house such as turning off appliances when they are not in use, switching the TV off after watching, hitting the power button on the DVD player and then of course shutting off lights around the house when they aren’t in use.

Save water. There are many ways children can learn to conserve water around the house: Only do full loads of laundry and dishwasher cycles, turn the water off when you brush your teeth (seems simple, but every child has to learn), take shorter showers, be mindful when watering the lawn and plants, etc.

Garbage vs. recycling. When your kids are at the right age, teach them about what items can be recycled vs. thrown away. Talk to them about recycling – what it is and perhaps even showing them the triangle sign that most recycle products have so they can keep a look out for what is recyclable.

Composting. Here you can take recycling one step further and start a compost. Make it fun for your kids and educate them about what items belong in a compost. It’s more than you think! Banana peels, coffee grinds, apple cores – let them have fun with it.

Littering. This lesson is as simple as instructing your children not to litter. Show them the public garbage cans on sidewalks, in parks, and at malls so they learn the right way to discard and how to keep our Earth clean.

Walking and biking. If you’re going somewhere within walking or biking distance, allow a few extra minutes to hit the pavement on wheels or feet rather than always using a pollutant car.

Reusable bags. With all the “cute” reusable grocery and shopping bags available these days why would you not choose to use reusable bags!?! Let your son/daughter pick out one of their own (or maybe even make one?) that they can use when they run errands or help you shop. Teach them about why you use reusable bags (to save on paper and plastic, etc.).

Waste in packaging. Give your kids examples of over-packaged items so they can be on the lookout when they shop for items that use less waste.

Learn through media. Introduce your children to the concept of helping Planet Earth by watching movies or reading magazines on the subject. There are some great resources out there for kids: The Disney film Earth, The Lorax (for younger kids), and An Inconvenient Truth (for teens or older). For reading try National Geographic KIDS magazine or a great book on the subject such as, “What Does It Mean To Be Green?” by Rana DiOrio – a Mom’s Choice Award honoree.

Get outdoors. According to the Earth Day Network, 90 percent of kids’ playtime is spent indoors. Opt to spend time outdoors appreciating the Earth and perhaps even do a few things to help as you go such as plant a tree or volunteer in the community by cleaning up litter.

The important thing to remember here is to lead by example. Your kids will never learn the right way if you don’t practice what you preach. What other ideas do you have? What does it mean to be green in your life?