Living in harmony with nature, trying to do the right things to benefit all creatures, and bringing awareness to environmental issues has always been important to me.
I believe it is important to teach kids to be conscious of and responsible for their actions and to protect their environment. Regardless of what you believe about climate change, it is vital that we not deplete our planet. To live in harmony with our surroundings is also in our best interests.
In 2006 I acted on my passion and commitment to bring awareness to environmental issues and what we can do about them. My husband and I created one of the world’s first green cleaning company. I was happy to see that many other companies have switched over to natural options since then.
Kids naturally want to live in sync with nature; they just need guidance on how to continue living this way. I believe by making only a few changes in our lifestyle and homes, we can make a big impact.
By showing your attitude towards other life forms and not being part of the problem can be a big lesson for your kids.
In our family, since my son was little, we often talk about how we are part of a system on this planet and that other creatures are important to our ecosystem no matter how small they are. We discuss why our family does certain things differently than his friends’ families.
Make it a family value to care for this planet
We teach values to our kids with our actions and words. Everyday situations such as choosing items in the store, not only based on price, but also the principle that companies adopt, is an important lesson for kids.
I see paying more for products as an investment in my child’s future and as a donation to save what we have. I’ve explained to my son how we support companies with our money who I believe have good values.
We keep these conversations simple and easy to understand. Focusing on what we can do instead of on the damage that has been already done.
Use natural and recycled products
By using regular cleaning products your indoor air quality can be 5 times more polluted than the air outdoors, due to better insulation and the chemical products we normally use. However, using environmental friendly cleaning and personal hygiene products is easier than ever.
Consider these steps in what happens during the “lifetime” of a product.
- How is it developed and manufactured?
- What is the effect on you and your home when you use them?
- What happens when it goes down the drain or ends up in a landfill?
We have so many options to choose from in stores, and you can also mix your own at home. For cleaning consider using vinegar, baking soda, and natural dish soap.
For self-care you can find great recipes online to mix up your own. Kids love to participate in mixing and smelling essential oils.
When it is possible select paper products that are recycled.
Be selective about what you eat
We all want the best for our family and we care a great deal about their health.
I’m not suggesting that you go vegan – I’m not vegan myself -, but if you eat meat or any type of animal products buy organic and humanely raised ones. Non-organic animals are treated with hormones, steroids, and antibiotics to make them grow faster, produce more milk and to keep them healthy, under less than ideal conditions.
(See the short video about a family going organic and the effects. )
Kids always want to eat what they friends are having. Teach them to read labels like NonGMO, Fair Trade and Organic, which indicate good quality products. Send them on a hunt to find what they like that have those words on the label.
By preparing your own food you can reduce waste and have more control over what goes into your meal.
Kids participation in buying and helping you prepare family meals can help them appreciate and want to try eating different foods.**
Growing your own food is a fun family project. Kids can be part of the whole process and see the miracle that occurs from seeds to the table. There is something satisfying about harvesting, if feels like an accomplishment, and you feel and appreciation for the fruits of your labor.
In your community or online, there are a lot of activities to choose from based on your schedule and location. You can clean up the forests or beaches, walk dogs at your local animal shelter, or deliver food, toys and clothing to kids in need.
Helping others and seeing their happy faces is a very important lesson. Kids can experience happiness through giving to strangers without expecting anything back. They can give their time, donate part of their pocket money or give away unused toys and clothing.
Another way to help is through an online donation. The benefit of giving online is that your child can choose the cause that is really close to his or her heart; from helping kids, saving animals and/or the planet. My son loves sending school supplies, food, warm clothing and soccer balls to poor countries.
You don’t need to go to extremes, we can be environmentally conscious without giving up our comfort. If we all live 80% of the time consciously, we can benefit a great deal, and so will our planet.
Please share your ideas and practices on how you live in harmony with nature in the comments.
*Details on farms and antibiotics used here: http://www.uspirg.org/issues/usp/stop-overuse-antibiotics-factory-farms-0
**Factory farms pollute air and water: http://www.foodispower.org/pollution-water-air-chemicals/
Bonus tip: Caring for house pets gives kids a great opportunity to practice caring and compassion for animals.
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