Parenting is challenging on its own. Now eco-parenting is even more challenging. I found it more overwhelming to raise my children to be waste-free and eco-friendly, but the idea of raising them to be more Earth Friendly was doable.
The best kind of parenting is to model and be an example for your child. That is true in any subject. You want them to do something and follow you; you don’t tell them to do it. You model the practice, and they will follow even when you are not around to see.
This is true, especially in our subtle ways of doing things. Kids will pick up on the way we shop, where we shop. How do we treat the things we don’t want anymore and how we manage food in the kitchen.
Everything we do and the way we do them become the culture of our family, and our children knowing or unknowing will take it with them to their future family. Now that I look back, the way I run my kitchen is the way I saw my mom running her kitchen. Yes, I have changed a few things here and there and made it my own, but the base, the juice of it came from her. She was and is the most Earth friendly person in my life. She never let any food or anything to go to waste in our household. I learned the reuse, repurpose, recycle, and giving back from her.
Attributes to focus on in rasing earth-friendly kids
I believe every Earth friendly person has three attributes. They feel a sense of responsibility towards their surroundings, people, neighbourhood, etc. They value our resources and hard work that goes to make the life we live today. And they care for others around them and everything they own.
Here are three simple things you can do to build these attributes in your child.
Plant something and give them the responsibility to water and tend to it.
With this practice, they learn how responsibility and caring for something works. They also learn how earth and plants work and how we need to take care of our gardens and vegetation. These kids tend to be more nature lovers.
Show them the value of the food we have. Yes, composting is better than throwing food in the garbage. But we can use up more of the food we quickly put in the compost.
I remember when I was a child, we would never throw out leftover dried bread, as simple as that. We didn’t have compost back then, but some vendors would come to our neighbourhood and would exchange the dried bread with salt. The dried bread would be turned into food for cattle.
The thing I learned from this and what my mom thought me was that a lot of people worked hard to grow the wheat and turn it into the bread that we eat, and just throwing it out would be disrespect to them and all their hard work. And now, I see the value and the simplicity of that simple act.
Caring and giving back to your community can be done in so many different ways. Helping kids pick groceries for the food bank is one way. My Earth friendly activity though, is teaching them to donate the clothes they grew out of.
I remember wearing hand me downs and knowing that I need to keep my clothes in good shape because one day, it was going to be passed down to my cousin to wear. This can be done in so many different ways. We don’t have friends or cousins the same size or around the same age to do so now. But I thought my kids at a very young age that their close that doesn’t fit them anymore are perfect clothes for those who are younger than them. I got them involved in taking their unwanted items to the thrift store.
With this act, they learn to value their belonging and don’t throw them in the garbage when they don’t have use for them. That, if they don’t need or have use for it, someone else will. I know this works well because my children, who are teens now, don’t even think about throwing away any of their belongings. If something doesn’t fit, they automatically put it in a box to be given away. This is so grained in their mind that if by mistake I tell them to throw something out, they come back with: ” WHY?? It just doesn’t fit me. Someone else can perfectly use this.”
By this activity, they learn both the value of their belongings and how we are a community and how we can care for each other.
So there you go, three simple things you can start doing today to raise and more earth friendly child. Being earth friendly doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to suffer through it, it can be done with simple steps and then build on that when you are ready.