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Monday
Nov052012

3 Simple Green Things You Can Do for Your Child to Help Reduce Environmental Impact  

by Srikant Chellappa

photo: gingerlillytea photography

Like it or not everything we do has a direct environmental impact, some of which can last generations and have profound, undesirable effects on the ecosystem. As busy parents, we are often too busy running around and raising our children to place too much attention and effort towards eco-friendly ways. Fortunately, living an eco-friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, even small things which require minimal effort and expense can go a long way. You don’t have to necessarily buy an electric car and install solar panels on your roof to be eco-friendly and feel dejected if you cannot afford it. When raising children, small habits started while they are young can lead them to respect the environment and create a generation of low-impact consumers.

Here are 3 simple, but impactful, eco-friendly and green actions you can take with your child:

 

1.     Ditch the disposable plastic bottled water

Disposable plastic water bottles have a deep impact on energy consumption and the environment even if they are “recyclable.” According to a recent study, bottled water can produce plastic waste in tune of 1.5 million tons in a year. Not to mention, this plastic takes an estimated 47 million gallons of crude oil.  It is also estimated that around 80% of these bottles may never be recycled. Even if they are recycled, there is more energy required in the process, and the downside is consequent pollution. This is not a win-win as may be perceived. Your best bet is to get a high-quality water bottle that you can use for several years. There are several BPA free and eco-friendly bottles on the market, some of which have double lining so they don’t sweat if you carry them around in your child’s school bag. Look at some options on eco-friendly bottles online here at or look at your local stores to see if they carry some good options for you. You can also use some of the newer versions with a built-in filter if you are concerned with water quality in your area.

 

2.     Go eco-friendly with reusable lunch boxes

Lunch trash is a growing problem in our schools. This is another overlooked area with the common use of zip-lock style bags and other materials that end up in mixed trash, never to be recycled. It is estimated that an average elementary school generates 18,000 pounds of school lunch waste. Obviously not all of it is the packaging but there is a growing trend towards “no-waste” lunch. Here is how you can work towards that goal:

 

  • Get a high quality lunch box preferably made with eco-friendly material. There are several options including high quality steel, BPA- and PVC-free plastic with “safe” paint coating.
  • Use a lunch bag that will last a long time and keep your child’s food warm or cold as the case may be.
  • Pack real silverware and cloth napkins that don’t get thrown away
  • Pack foods your child will eat. (We know this one is the hard part!)

 

3.     Take a walk and get outdoors

Increased use of electronics, TV, video games as entertainment for our children not only takes a toll on the environment (electronics and batteries are notoriously toxic for our environment and are rarely recycled) but also impact the behavior of our children.

The easiest and cheapest form of entertainment for a kid is to be in natural surroundings. Looking for a fun activity to do with your child? Work in the garden or take a walk in the park. A wonderful way to wean our little ones off their request to watch TV or play a game on the computer or iPad is to go on a mock treasure hunt in the back yard or pick some flowers and herbs for the flower vase or the next meal to be made. Hiking in your local preservation is a great way to help your child become one with nature and appreciate the natural gifts we have. Recent studies have identified new symptoms around “Nature Deficit Disorder.” Walking creates better neighborhoods, more social interaction and reduced incident of social behavior disorder. Next time your child is bored and wants to sit in front of the TV, take a walk!

What other ideas do you have that are easy and fun? 

Srikant Chellappa is the dad of a 4-year-old and loves to promote eco-friendly lifestyles. He believes children are never too young to learn about the environmental impact of our actions and can be an active participant in families living in an eco-friendly and sustainable manner. Srikant also founded Zenoobi.com, an eco-friendly e-commerce site for baby and kid products.

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