If you grew up in the 1970s, being environmentally-friendly meant little more than putting your sweet wrappers in the bin, with kids encouraged to turn off lights to save electricity in energy-stricken Britain, rather than to stop the ice caps melting.
If your childhood spanned the 1980s, you may well have worn a Save the Whale badge, but most people who voiced any concerns for the environment were simply dismissed as ‘Tree Huggers’. It was only in the 1990s, when climate change became more widely discussed, and Governments sat round the table to sign agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol, that a much greater green awareness entered the mainstream.
Today’s children, whether they know it or not, are more environmentally aware than any previous generation. School plays an important role instilling the importance of caring for our environment and conserving resources, so why not help find ways in which your children can do their bit for the environment round the home, too.
A good place to start is with the green mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. It’s a phrase that’s become common parlance over the last few years, as we finally wake up to the fact that the earth’s resources – and the space to dump our rubbish – are, in fact, finite.
So get the children to grab a pen and paper, and see what ideas they can come up with. Chances are they’ll say things you’ve never even thought of, so here’s a few to keep up your sleeve, just in case!
As well as turning off lights to save electricity, encourage your children to turn off PCs and TVs rather than leaving them on standby. And once those precious DSs and I-Pods are fully charged, get them into the habit of turning the charger off at the wall, too.
Water’s often see as a limitless and free resource and the classic waste of H2O is leaving the tap running while you brush your teeth. Turn it off and you’ve got an immediate, easy win.
It’s amazing how much paper children can get through! Home offices are constantly raided in search of a wad of pristine A4 sheets, but try to encourage them to use the other side of used sheets, too.
Ditch those new daily cartons or bottles in lunch boxes – the kids can easily replace them with a reusable bottle full of water or squash. If they’re fussy about the taste of your tap water, simply get a water filter and keep it topped up in the fridge.
Draw up a house rota which makes someone chief of recycling each week. Then it’s their job to make sure people use the right recycling bins and don’t get lazy by simply lumping everything in with the rubbish!
Incentivise your children to clean up their room, and sort out all those old toys at the same time, with the offer of a Big Swap, when they can trade their old stuff with friends.
Or, if you’ve got some good things together that make it worth the early start, why not try a car boot sale and turn your ‘junk’ into money? You can even make a deal with the kids that anything that isn’t sold is recycled through a charity shop.