Helping your child build direct connections with the natural world instills a deep respect for the planet and is probably the first important step towards getting children to think green.
Here are some ideas:
Take them on nature walks to the beach, stake park and hiking trips. If you live in the city, take them to the zoo to observe the animals and their habitat or your neighborhood park to observe the butterflies that come to pollinate the flowers.
Talk with your children about the plants and animals they see and the things and places that you love or would like to explore.
Have them engage in drawing activities and nature journals where they can record all that they experience on your outing.
Buy Eco-Friendly Toys
For babies and small children, ecotoytown.com is a great place to shop
For older kids, you can find solar-powered helicopters, race cars and boats. Solarpoweredtoy.com has a huge selection of solar powered toys and games
Educational kits are a great way for kids to learn about reusable energy and fun at the same time i.e. Wind Turbine educational kits and solar fuel cell experiment kits
Eco-dough is an all natural alternative to traditional play dough. It's made with plant, fruit and veggie extracts! No chemicals, artificial dyes or metals. Containers are made from cornstarch and 100% compostable. Also it doesn't dry out like name brands. If it's left out overnight just add a few drops of olive oil and it comes right back!
Have your kids walk or bike to school and leave the mini- van at home. For younger kids, walk or bike with them or consider sending a chaperone
Buy Green Back to School Supplies. These are all-in-one kits that required less packaging therefore creating less waste. They also save you from driving around town and using up gas.
Pack a waste-free lunch. Have your kids help and talk to them about how this helps the environment.
Pack Food in Reusable Containers-Avoid plastic bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and prepackaged foods whenever possible.
Use a Refillable Drink Bottle-Consider using a made-to-last water bottle instead of refilling single-use bottles.
Use a Cloth Napkin Instead of Paper-Make or buy a napkin for your child to decorate. This can be a fun family project and will provide your child with a sense of ownership, increasing the chances that the napkin will make it home again.
Pack Reusable Utensils Instead of Disposables-Provide your child with utensils that will make lunch feel like a "real" meal!
Buy Locally Produced Food Products - Consider purchasing lunch items at the farmers' market. Visit LocalHarvest .org to find a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) or farmers' market near you.
Do composting projects with your children.
For more information on Dr. Jeff Schweitzer, eco-expert and environmental scientist
scientist and authority in domestic and international policy, global warming/climate change and ethics, go to www.jeffschweitzer.com.
For information on the toys featured go to ecotoytown.com and ecokidsusa.com.
Organic Eco Baby Set $48.95
Wind Power Experiment Set $49.95
Eco-Dough 20.00 and Eco-Finger Paint $20.00
Tea Set $39.95
Solar Power Workshop $64.95
Fuel Cell Toy Car $149.95
100% Organic Baby Products by Seaside Natural: Price range $6-$13 (available at seasidenaturalsonline.com)