While there is an international day every year in June, to celebrate the Environment and all things Eco-Friendly, most of us want to make sure being green is part of our daily lives. Kids are more aware than ever of the need to look after the planet for the future, and there's some easy and fun ways to set an example for your littlies.
How about trying out some of these ideas, by taking a day a week to Go Green?
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1. Walk, cycle or take the bus
We often hop in our cars when we don't have to. Sydney has some tremendous walks you can do with babies and toddlers, excellent cycling paths for tandem cycling and improving bus networks all over the city, for that further away kind of errand or outing.
2. Plant a tree or a plant in your backyard, or visit a community garden
If you have a green thumb, you might like to involve your little one in a planting activity in the backyard. You can buy kids' shovels, spades, watering cans and gloves at a garden centre or Bunnings. There is nothing more fun than getting your hands messy with soil and water when you're a kid!
At school, kids are expected to learn about different bins for different kinds of waste, so why not prepare your pre-schoolers? You could either involve them in your preparation for bin collection day at home, or get them involved in the Return and Earn scheme. You can take eligible recyclables to a designated community recycling point, and while you won't earn much money doing this, a dollar or two would mean the world to a child; their first taste of pocket money!
4. Volunteer for a bush regeneration group, or pick up rubbish at the beach
Most local communities have volunteer bush regeneration or Bushcare groups, made up of neighbourhood volunteers. If you can spare some time each week to do some weeding, or clean up at a designated park, you might like to enquire with your local council if any groups are child-friendly.
If not, there's nothing to stop you doing your bit to pick up rubbish independently. On your next walk with your little one and the dog, take a bag and encourage your child to pick up safe rubbish, such as plastic wrappers. This is a particularly terrific idea for the beach, as it's a great way to teach your kids about the dangers of plastic rubbish to marine life. You could also keep across the Clean Up Australia website for other ideas and community event dates.
5. Packaging-FREE lunchbox day
Your child's school might already do something like this. It's a great idea to make parents and children think about the level of non-recyclable waste that goes into a lunchbox every day. And if your child doesn't go to school yet, there's nothing stopping you setting your own day of the week to pack a plastic-free lunchbox for pre-school, or that trip to the park with bub. Perhaps use a paper bag where possible, rather than plastic wrap, or a re-usable Tupperware container for Crunch and Sip, rather than putting chopped fruit in a plastic zip lock bag, that often ends up in the bin.
6. Visit a Zoo, Wildlife Park or Aquarium
Sydney is spoiled for choice when it comes to zoos, wildlife parks and aquariums. Once places that were seen as keeping wild animals in captivity, they are now centres for species conservation. While a visit to a zoo can be difficult with babies or toddlers, it is still an activity you can enjoy with them in short visits.
And if your child is at that curious pre-school, or early primary age, you can introduce them to the concept of conservation. Most zoos have amazing exhibits and shows that teach environmental preservation in a fun way, so plan your visit and seek out these opportunities. You'll come home with some cool talking points to explore further through books from the library.
As your babies get older, you'll find yourself accumulating SO MUCH STUFF! If you haven't got any younger siblings of the same gender coming through, it will break your heart to think of how many gently-used items are going to waste. Sure, you might try selling some items online, or giving-away to friends, but a lovely way to encourage your child to recycle and give, is through donating to charity.
Every so often, why not spend a day going through clothes and toys together, and deciding which ones they'd like to give to other kids who don't have as much as them. Not saying every kid will like the idea of giving their stuff away, but it's an interesting exercise in introducing them to the ideas of practical recycling and giving.
While the last idea seems one of the most fun to me in my special, OCD-kind-of-way, you might have others you think are worth adding to your regular routine. Whatever you do on the home front to contribute to a more sustainable future, appreciate the influence and impact it is having on your child's young mind and the good practices it will create for their own adult lives.