Earth Day is a great reminder to parents that we have a responsibility to not only talk to our kids about the environment but show them how to care for it in their own everyday lives. Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure our kids grow up respecting the world around us.
Six things you can do with your kids leading up to Earth Day
Help your kids develop a love of nature
David Suzuki says the best thing we can do for the planet as parents is nurture a love for nature in our kids. Vancouver has so much to offer when it comes to outdoor play. Visit one of the four playgrounds at Wesbrook Village, then take a walk on the trails through Pacific Spirit Park. Go for a family forest walk, head out on a kid-friendly hike, visit a bog Check out the ParticipACTION 150 Play List and work together as a family to check off as many of the activities as possible.
Teach them from an early age
Topics like recycling, composting, waste and consumerism are important ones to start talking to your kids about from an early age. You can get them involved in helping determine how to incorporate these concepts into daily life. Take them to a local recycling depot and have them help sort the items into each bin. Set aside separate bins at home – clearly labeled for each type of recyclable item – and remind them where to put items. Do a quarterly purge of their clothes, bag up those that don’t fit anymore and donate or sell them.
Dig in the dirt together
Take your kids to your local gardening store and have them help you pick out the seeds or plants for your own garden. When you get back give them their own pots to plant or – if you have the space – set aside a gardening plot that is theirs to both plant and care for. If you’re feeling really adventurous plant your own edible garden. Teaching your kids to get their hands dirty in their own garden at a young age can foster a love for gardening that will stay with them for their entire lives.
Eat a plant-based meal once a week
The hashtag #meatlessmonday caught the public imagination for a reason. It’s a well established fact that eating less meat is better for the planet and better for our bodies. And even the biggest meat fans can go for one veggie dinner a week. And if cooking it is too intimating, go out for dinner! Vancouver has some of the best plant-based restaurants and menus around.
Be label aware
Companies are looking to differentiate themselves by offering earth-friendly products. For example, hundreds of products now sport the Vancouver Aquariums Ocean Wise label, which certifies that the product has been sustainably produced. Look for the EnviroCare label found on brands like Scotties facial tissue and Sponge Towels paper towels, which are made from 100% recycled materials without much of a price difference. Show these labels to your child and have a discussion about your purchasing choices and why they’re better for the environment.
Eat, shop, play local
One of the best ways to be earth-friendly is supporting local businesses. Visit your nearest produce retailer and stock up on locally grown fruits and veggies. Take a day trip to a U-pick, load up on whatever fruit is in season and eat, bake, cook or freeze all of it when you get home. Explore the city with an earth friendly day trip on local transit – its amazing how much kids love the bus and skytrain! And wherever possible leave the car at home and walk or bike to local destinations.
Following these simple steps will help your kids grow up green and serve as a good reminder for the grown ups too!
Christine Pilkington has over 15 years of digital and interactive media experience. Breakfast Television has dubbed her a Baby Product Guru and she frequently appears on CBC and CTV. She lives with her husband, three daughters and a Lagotto Romagnolo in East Vancouver, about 10 minutes from where she grew up. Christine is also the CEO of Crisp Media Inc, which develops digital marketing strategies for businesses.