Going Green Together – Parenting Prattle

Issues like global warming for kids may seem complex, but you’re never too young to learn about the environment around you, and giving your kids practical ways to make their lifestyle more eco-friendly is a great way to engage them with these issues. So rather than redesigning your rooms or furniture, why not get together with your kids to give your home a green makeover? Here are a few simple ways that you while away an afternoon creatively, creating something useful and fun that will make your home a more environmentally-friendly place to live.

Feed the Birds

You can make a simple bird feeder from old plastic bottle. Just make a round hole in one side, big enough for the birds to access, but not so big that all your seeds will fall out right away! Then make a few little holes in the bottom of your bottle to let rainwater drain away. Hang from a tree with some string, and watch as the birds start to come to your garden regularly to feed. If you don’t have a garden, you can still put up a feeder in any other outdoor space you have access to (and permission to use, of course!). Remember to restock regularly, and to take care using the scissors when you’re cutting up the bottle. Another activity you can do together and that’s especially great for birds during the winter is making fat balls; find a recipe here.

Give Groceries a New Look

This is a great idea for a themed party, with the end result being an eco-friendly goodie bag for everyone to take home! All you need is a bunch of plain, reusable cotton bags and fabric paints or pens. Then let your kids loose on the cotton – they’ll be free to cover the bag with whatever design sparks their imaginations. Go even greener and upcycle old T-shirts into cotton bags: simply cut the sleeves off, widen the neckline and sew or knot the bottom.

When you do go shopping using your brand new bag, you might want to discuss global warming for kids, and how to cut down on or reuse packaging. You can also bring up bigger decisions, like the advantages of greener travel. They can even read a simple guide explaining global warming for kids here.

Grow Your Own Herbs

Cut down on your food’s air miles and freshen up your kitchen by planting a miniature herb garden. Plant herbs that you use regularly and that suit the space you have: basil, for example, needs plenty of light, while mint will grow in almost any conditions and parsley likes frequent watering. If you have slightly more space, you can even grow tomatoes, aubergines or globe radishes indoors. Kids can get stuck in feeling the soil and counting out seeds during the planting process, but they can also get creative with your pots. You might want to use old yoghurt pots for your herb garden, cutting small holes in the bottom for drainage. Once that’s done, the kids can decorate the containers however they like before you start planting: poster paints and glue both stick to plastic.

Reducing Energy Use

Another way to reduce your home’s environmental footprint is to cut down on energy consumption. Smartphones, tablets and computers all use a lot of electricity when they’re switched on, so try unplugging them when you know you won’t need them for a while. Consider switching off lights in the house when nobody’s using them – or even better, replace your current bulbs with LED ones. If you want to make an afternoon of cutting down on energy usage around the house, why not set up a simple exercise where each family member has to find as many items that can be unplugged and turned off as possible? Simply go through each room together and see how much energy you can save!

Upcycling Old Furniture & Clothing

One of the most fun activities kids can do to help their environment is upcycling old furniture and clothes. This teaches them a bit about creative reuse, as well as empowering them to make something new from something old. For example, take an old dresser that’s seen better days and turn it into a bright new storage unit with some paint and a few tools for the job. Or use your family’s outgrown clothing to make custom cushion covers or wall hangings – you can find instructions for both projects here! Upcycling also helps to cut down on waste; so why not get the whole family involved in seeing what you can create?

Composting Kitchen Waste

When it comes to reducing your environmental footprint, composting is key. Composting works by breaking down organic waste – think food scraps, plant trimmings and cardboard – into a nutrient-rich soil conditioner for the garden. It helps to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, as well as providing you with a handy fertiliser for your plants. Kids will love helping out in the kitchen when it’s time to separate out organic waste, and can even join in on collecting bins from around the garden. Even better: find an old plastic crate or tub for them to use! Just remember that composting isn’t suitable for all types of food waste; things like dairy and meat should be avoided and you should only compost plant matter in general.

Cutting Back on Travel

Transportation is one of the major contributors to global warming, so it’s important to look for ways to reduce your family’s reliance on vehicles. This could be as simple as leaving the car at home and opting for public transport instead – or even better, walking or cycling! You can also encourage the kids to join in with reducing their own travel footprint; perhaps by joining an after-school club that’s within easy walking distance, or seeing if they can bike it. The kids will get a great sense of accomplishment from having done something that helps the environment too – plus, it’ll save you some money!

Encourage Kids To Make Their Own Decisions

Last but not least, don’t forget that this is an educational opportunity for your children. Encourage them to be aware of their own impact on the environment and make decisions that help reduce it. So if there’s a choice between having one person drive everyone or taking public transport, encourage them to think about which option will have a smaller environmental footprint. Or when they’re shopping for clothes or toys, talk to them about looking out for environmentally friendly choices and why those are important.

There you have it: some green makeover ideas to get you started! If you have older kids, why not come up with some more complex challenges that you can do together, like jam jar crafts or even building a greenhouse out of plastic bottles?  With a little imagination you can all have fun while saving energy and making the world a little greener at the same time.

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