The Wilde Olive Blog: How can we teach our children to live for a greener future?


How can we teach our children to live for a greener future?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The U.S. plastic bottle recycling rate is less than 30 percent—so less than one-third of all plastic bottles get recycled. We don’t really  think about what happens to plastic bottles after you recycle them. So Repreve is on a mission to get the word out: Just recycle more... and buy REPREVE products of course. Thanks REPREVE for sponsoring this post, it was so fun working with a brand that is making a difference! 
I've mentioned before that we do a few things in our home to be a little more environmentally friendly. We don't do enough, though, and I'd like to work on that this year. It is after all the time for resolutions, right? So, let's start from where the learning begins – with our children.

From my point of view the “green” movement isn't anything new, it's something I've been, at the least, aware of my entire life. As the daughter of a forester (turned full-time NaNa), we were just naturally taught to be cautious and aware of our environment. At a very young age, we were taught that trees give us oxygen, littering is a no-no, and to respect the earth. My sisters and I attended many awareness events, tree plantings, and always knew the person wearing the Smokey Bear costume. Today, my mom, who is my son's daycare provider, is helping to pass that knowledge on to yet another generation. At just over two years old Jonah knows that worms are our friends, there is a separate bin for plastic bottles, and food doesn't just come from the grocery store.

We have a long way to go in our home, but here are a few ways we can teach our children that being green can be part of our everyday lives.

REDUCE: We are wasteful creatures by habit, not by nature. We've just picked up bad habits as a society that need to be reversed. If you are willing to properly store and eat left overs when you've cooked too much, your kids will be too. If you eat the banana that has a few bruises, your kids will mostly likely be willing to also. When we cook a big meal for the three of us, we try to eat it again a day or two later. You can freshen it up by adding a new side item or reworking it into a casserole.  You can also store soups, breads, pastas, etc. in the freezer. Just Google the best way to store and reheat certain types of food. An added thing I sometimes do is take our extras over to my mom’s house, so that she can have a pre-prepared lunch for Jonah and my nephew the next day! That cuts down on food waste in two homes. 

REUSE: Finished with that plastic take out container or cup? Put it in the sink – not the trash! Wash it with warm water and dish soap. These are great for leftovers; take home cups for company, crayon containers, paint cups, drums, rice shakers, etc. Ripped clothing? You can’t sell that on ThredUp or give to goodwill. Take it to your local pet shelter to be used for bedding or use it for dusting and cleaning around the house.

UPCYCLE: Over the past year, we have really taken upcycling to a whole new level.  I turned pants from Jonah’s great grandmother’s estate sale into a cute new pair of shorts for him. He got lots of compliments on them this summer and I got to share their story with other parents. My sister has frequented her local Goodwill searching for men’s shirts and turned them into dresses, pants, shorts, and appliques for our kids. We even sold some at a local street fair back in August! Can’t sew? There are plenty of no sew tutorials out there for scarves, toy bags, pillowcases and probably more.

GO OUTSIDE: Teaching our children the benefits of doing things outdoors is probably one of the most important components of living a greener existence. Help them become familiar with nature and how everything works together to sustain life. This is easy from learning the life cycle of leaves, growing flowers from a seed, showing them the importance of worms, bugs, and bees to showing them how trash and run off can get into our streams, lakes, and drinking water. The more familiar they are with nature the more they will grow to love and take care of it.

RECYCLE: Just do it. We are out of excuses. Most larger cities have recycling pick up days. Ours is every other Friday. Our neighborhood email newsletter even reminds us!  In smaller towns, you can find receptacles and even small companies or individuals that will pick it up curbside. Recycling can be just a way of life and not something extra. The more you do it, the more part of your routine it becomes, and if you start when your children are young – they won’t know any other way. Headed to Target? Take your recyclables and drop them on the way in. Then see if you can find any products in the store made from recycled materials. (You can find products made from REPREVE here so you'll know more about what to look for when shopping.)

Hey you can even make taking the recycling a responsibility for your child. What a great way to teach them about taking care of your home and taking care of the environment. While Jonah isn't really old enough for that big of a chore, I thought it'd be fun to let him help daddy. He really loves to help around the house and loves to put things in the trash and recycling containers. We made this little video and are entering the #turnitgreen contest happening now through Jan 31st. There is a $5000 prize!

Repreve from Stephanie Clark on Vimeo.
Contest details: To celebrate the 2014 X Games,  REPREVE invites you to share how you and your family "turn it green", or how you live a more sustainable life by recycling or reusing materials, by sharing an image or video on Twitter, Instagram or Vine with the #TurnItGreen hashtag. 
Once you share the image or video with the hashtag, you will be entered into a sweepstakes where five entries will be randomly selected as the Top Five. Those five will be voted on by visitors to Repreve[dot]com where the image or video with the most votes will win a $5,000 cash prize. The other four video entries will receive a REPREVE Jacket and a Go-Pro camera (retail valued at over $350).

Do you have tips for families trying to Turning It Green? I'd love for you to share them with me! Also, please tag me in any of your #turnitgreen posts so I can see! 


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