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Raising eco-conscious kids

Renee Tratch
Digital Writer, theweathernetwork.com

Friday, April 25, 2014, 9:10 AM -

Sure, today's young people have more exposure to environmental issues in school than many previous generations, but it’s parents who have the most influence on kids’ eco-attitudes. So as parents, how can we ensure that we are passing along good habits?

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The route to teaching sustainable choices isn't easy, but it's important to take some steps (big or small) towards cultivating environmentally conscious kids.

Lead by example: Whether it’s recycling, power usage or the type of transit your family chooses, these actions send powerful messages to children. Make some greener choices by packing a once-a-week litterless lunch for parents, as well as the kids. Or host a garbage-free BBQ. Frisbees make great plates! Environment Ontario offers some easy water conservation tips that will make an impression on the youngsters.

Good habits start early: Since environmental awareness and action range widely from city to town to school, take up the challenge at home. How to inspire the little ones? Earth Day Canada has tons of ideas (and a place to post your do-good actions to inspire others) through EcoKids’ Acts for the Planet. Kids into Spiderman? Be sure mention the green side of the story:

Get dirty: Sad but true, many children have lost the concept of where food comes from. Whether you have a big garden or a few pots on a balcony, get the kids to dig in. Seeing food on the plate that came from the seeds kids planted is a big thrill, as well as a great lesson in sustainability. Evergreen Canada sparks curiosity in the kitchen through their Growing Taste Buds workshops, just one of the many ways they challenge everyone to Get Dirty to help green communities.

De-clutter: How to teach children to be responsible consumers can be difficult, especially when as the family grows, so does the amount of stuff. Making the effort to reuse and reduce will help the environment and the pocket book. Propose a toy swap the next time they want something “new,” or use your recyclables for the next art project. Check out these fun crafts ideas.

Get outdoors: Setting limits on screen time is always a battle. A sure way to encourage a sustainable lifestyle is to drop the devices and reconnect to nature. Join or organize a neighbourhood park clean up or find the nearest trail and go for a family walk. Getting kids outdoors is a global challenge. Check how much time kids spend outside around the world and how much importance the parents place on nature through The Nature Conservancy’s recent survey. How do you measure up?

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